Lessons with Webtoons|Judgement, Self-Esteem, and Accepting Compliments

Lessons with Webtoons|Judgement, Self-Esteem, and Accepting Compliments

Hey BAYOG Fam! I thought I might try something a little bit different. I’ve shared many different titles and things with you all over the past year. As you all know, I generally like to share things that I find to be very relatable. However, sometimes there are specific chapters or parts that I think would be wonderful to discuss. So I think I’ll start a new series of posts focusing on those things. I’ll call them “Lessons With Webtoons/Dramas/Anime/etc”, or something. Obviously the last part would change depending on whatever sparked the post. I know it sounds long, so let me know what you’d call it?~ I don’t know. I just like having heart-to-heart moments with you guys. It helps me on a personal level to ease some of things weighing on my mind. However, I also hope that these help you guys as well.

Obviously, be forewarned, there are going to be some spoilers.

The topics for this first post was sparked by 2 chapters in a webtoon series I’m reading. I’ve mentioned it before, but I really like the Korean webtoon [Girl’s World/Odd Girl Out]. It’s wonderful in the lessons and growth the main characters go through. Each chapter typically focuses more on a specific character, and an issue or complex that they’re dealing with.

Chapters 122123 really resonated with me. They’re actually one thing split into two chapters. The title and topic of these chapters are: How To Take Compliments. These two chapters focus on Nari, who would be our main protagonist out of the 4 girls. Nari is seen as kind and pretty. However, I suppose she’s seen as “pretty for an average girl”. Her 3 friends Yuna, Seonji, and Mirae are known for being really pretty. In fact, they’re basically known as 3 goddesses in their school. At the beginning of the webtoon, it was kind of an issue for Nari. She felt like, and was called “a squid” (aka an ugly duck) next to the 3 goddesses. She was constantly compared, scrutinized, and sometimes straight up dissed. Over time, Nari has become more comfortable and has no trouble hanging out with her 3 pretty friends. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel stressed or hurt by what other people say, or how they treat her.

I heard alot of this too…

In chapter 122, her dad notices something’s wrong with Nari. He truly loves his daughter and dotes on her. So he feels concerned by her out of place behavior. As he talks to his wife and the oppa (older “bro”) who works at the school about Nari’s behavior. Nari’s friend/classmate happens to be there and fills them in on the situation. She explains to them how she was in a similar situation because she had a close pretty friend. She tells them about how she’d hear mean comments all the time. She then explains that it’s a worse situation for Nari because she has –THREE– pretty friends. So Nari’s parents, the oppa, and classmate start showering Nari with compliments left and right; Even if some of them are weird. However, it doesn’t really make Nari feel good at all.

Reasons why I hate family gatherings…

Here’s the thing, I honestly have hellaaaa low self-esteem. I get anxiety and I constantly doubt myself. For the most part, I don’t think well of myself. Alot of it comes as a result from societal pressures, as well as the stress and pressures from a hella Asian family. It doesn’t feel good to be constantly compared to other people like friends, relatives, and your parents’ friends. I’m unfortunately just stuck where I don’t want to be because of family obligations. I missed out on opportunities because of those obligations. I’m not an amazing person, but I work hard. Despite being where I don’t want to be and doing what I hate, I work earnestly. Yet, I’ll constantly hear comments and judgement. I’m constantly compared to others. I’m constantly told, “Why can’t you be like so-and-so??” or “So-and so could do it, why can’t you??”. It runs a bit deeper than I’m willing to talk about, but you get the idea. It’s made me really dread questions like, “What do you do?”, “Why?”, “When are you going to get a real job?” I have hella anxiety because of it. It’s as if it doesn’t matter that I’m trying my best, and enduring to survive. It also doesn’t feel good to be constantly commented on about your physical appearance. It sucks to be constantly commented on everything, and being given unsolicited advice.

There are few times I’ve actually heard my family or relatives say nice things, actually mean it, and has no “but…”:
-My eyeliner skills… I shit you not, this is probably one of the things everyone’s most proud about…I swear my legacy is gonna be my freaking mediocre eyeliner… ლ(¯ロ¯”ლ)
-That I can cook… I don’t know why this surprises them when I literally grew up (and am stuck) in the restaurant business… ┐( ̄ヘ ̄;)┌
-My ability to speak Thai fairly fluently and my knowledge on Thai culture (for a foreign born/raised Thai).
-My singing and writing lyrics… This is kinda new and honestly I feel weird about it. I don’t showcase my singing/lyrics to my family because it feels awkward. Even though I post my covers on Facebook and YouTube… It’s kind of my secret hobby. Also it’s kind of weirder because they didn’t say this directly to me. I overheard my relatives saying it to my clueless grandma who was like, “….??? Wuht…?”

While it’s nice they think so highly of those things, it doesn’t negate the hurtful things I’ve heard. It’s like compliment +5 and negative things -60 to my self-esteem. One of the major things I’m always ragged on is my physical appearance. I’m Asian, but I’m not on the thin and petite side. I’m a heavier set girl, and I’m top heavy. I blame alot of it on stress and binge eating…as well as a hella slow metabolism. I’m also how I am because I do alot of heavy lifting at the restaurant. I gotta carry 50 lb bags of rice over my shoulder, and other things all the time. I’m like 166 cm tall (according to my Thai National ID), or a little over 5’4. Yes, I’m still pretty short. However, I’m considered rather tall in my family and amongst my relatives. I’m overweight, but my health is just fine My doctor literally said I was “perfectly healthy, just fat.”

Basically me…

However, my weight and physical appearance is always under scrutiny. After all, I’m not the “typical” or “ideal” Asian body type. I’ve always been the butt of every joke. Everyone thinks it’s funny to constantly say things like, “You’ll break this because you’re so fat/heavy”, “You look so -BIIIIIIIG-“, “You’re a piggy/elephant/sumo”, “The elephant is going to crush me”, “We’re going to need more food since the elephant is here”, etc. I’ve been to family events where one person would say a “loving joke”, and it turned into every one participating in it. Everyone thinks it’s a light-hearted and funny joke. Except that it wasn’t funny for me. It was really hurtful. It’s always hurtful. I remember staying at my uncle’s for a week. His mother-in-law lives with him. I know her, I’ve met her several times, but I’m in no way close to her or my uncle’s wife. His mother-in-law saw me and said, “MY! Mint, my dear, you’re absolutely HUGE”. I remember being at dinner. My younger cousins were throwing fits and wouldn’t finish their food. They made me eat it. Except it wasn’t that much food. I was on my fourth bite when my uncle’s mother-in-law comes in, looks at my plate, looks at my face, makes a face, and goes, “OH MY GOODNESS, MINT! YOU’RE GOING TO EAT -THAT- MUCH????” It’s at these times where my uncle’s wife, and even my uncle, will join in. There are times when my family’s acquaintances, people I barely even know, say those kinds of things to me. “All my shrimp is gone! Did Mint eat it??? HAHA!” “Are you sure that’s gonna be enough food with Mint around??” I’ve had times where I hadn’t eaten all day, finally get to eat, barely had five bites, and get told fat jokes and how I shouldn’t eat so much. I’ve had days where I can barely eat because I’m so uncomfortable and tired of hearing jokes and unsolicited advice about my weight.

I cried at this part because it really hit home for me…

I’m a big gal, but I look like I weigh less than my actual weight. I should also mention that I did lose alot of weight since when I graduated from college. I lost a good amount of weight, just like Nari. There was even a time when I had lost about 20-30 lbs. Although, I admit most of my weight loss was a combination of depression and not being able to eat properly.
Unfortunately,  I also bloat and gain eight easily too. Even after I had lost nearly 30 lbs, I was still constantly told, “You need to lose weight so you can look pretty.” They’d see my friends, cousins, relatives, or even a stranger, and say things like, “When will you ever look skinny and pretty like that??” Even when I try being healthier or just eat a salad because I want to, I get turned into a joke or get told a hurtful comment.

“Your face is pretty, and it’d be better if you lost more weight than this, Mint”

Whenever a relative or family -WOULD- say a compliment to me, it was never just a compliment. It would always be a compliment with an added “but…” comment about my weight/appearance. I block my relatives from seeing things I post on Facebook because of it. I’ve had an older relative I barely talk to suddenly/randomly write on my Facebook timeline. She wrote, “Your face is pretty, and it’d be even better if you lost more weight than this, Mint.” I literally only talk to her only to send New Year and birthday greetings. So you can imagine me getting the notification, reading it, and being like, “What the actual fu–???”

“I hope your face is as pretty as it seems on Facebook. With love from ‘grandma’.”

I also blocked notifications my family/relatives’ group chat on the LINE app. I don’t even bother checking the messages anymore. Why? On my birthday I received birthday wishes from my relatives. I was wished good health and happiness, but that’s not the only thing. What was added was, “I hope your face is as pretty as it seems on Facebook.” I’ve also been constantly told, “If you stay so fat, no one is going to want you or love you.” People think nothing when they say these comments. “They’re just joking.” “They say that cuz they love you.” I’m not thin nor do I consider myself pretty, but I was okay with how I was. I’d rather be fat and happy, and no…I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy either. I know I don’t need to be skinny to be considered “pretty” or to be loved. Still, it hurts to be constantly told these things over, and over, and over again. I also have to admit that I’ve become pretty sensitive when it comes to hearing these things. Sometimes, I get triggered and start yelling and feeling angry. People think I overreact over one or two comments. They tell me how it’s just a “funny joke”, or how they say those things because they “love and worry” about me. However, they just don’t realize how hurtful it is. Especially considering how I have alot of internal shit going on. It’s awful when you tell people, but they continue doing those things and shrug it off.

It’s because of these constant comments and unsolicited advice that I have such low self-esteem. I don’t really view myself in a good lens. I always have those comments in the back of my head. It’s led me to not really being able to just take compliments. Like Nari, I feel uncomfortable, and I’m not used to receiving compliments. I feel incredibly taken aback and awkward whenever I receive a compliment from a stranger or a friend. I don’t know what to say kind, freeze up, and am like “???”. Or I immediately dismiss the compliment, and/or say something to refute it. I tend to take any compliments as just empty flattery and jokes.

It’s funny because this recently happened. The other night, the bros were trying to get me to be a part of the podcast. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a video call with the bros. Nick complimented me on my hair. I automatically started covering my hair and face and said something like, “Oh no! My hair and face are so greasy and a mess! I’m so, so sorry!” To which Marc laughed and said something like, “I love how Nick compliments you and then you tell him no blah blah.”

Like Nari, I’m not only self-conscious…but I’m also full of self-loathing at times. I’m so aware of my faults. I hate comparing myself to my friends and everyone who is “successful” and living their best life. I’m so anxious and constantly worried because of constant judgement and all these comments. I shouldn’t care, but I hate that I care. I hate that sometimes, I agree with everything. I hate feeling like a big disappointment. I hate that I feel like complete trash at times. My self-worth took a big hit. There are times where I feel so mediocre, and completely worthless.

Over recent years, I found myself saying things that seem like jokes. I’ll say things like how I’m utter trash. I say it like a joke, people think I’m joking, but the truth is…I mean it. Like Nari, I thought I got used to it. I’m more used to it than before. Sometimes I’ll throw a nonchalant response. People will say things like, “Don’t eat so much or you’ll get even more fat”, and I respond with things like, “It’s getting colder, so I’m preparing my winter body.” Still, the sadness and pain is still there. Like Nari, I hate to admit it to my friends too. My friends are probably my most loving allies. Still, I don’t want them to know how hurt and sad I get from these things because I know they’d feel sad too. Like Nari, I’m also awful at relying on my friends. I don’t want to upset them, and I don’t want to bring them down. Instead, I use alot of humor to just shrug things off.

It’s a fantastic, inspiring, thought provoking speech. I highly recommend hearing it [Here].

Still, I’m trying to improve myself. I’m bringing BTS up [again], but their “Love Yourself” message, albums, campaign, and NamJoon’s UN speech really resonated in me. It’s something that I’m really trying to live by right now. It reminded me that I may have faults, but I should love myself. My faults, mistakes, past, and present make up who I am today. It’ll make who I am tomorrow. I can’t change myself instantly, but I’ll take it slow. Rather than just listening to what other people say, I’m trying harder to hear my own voice over everyone else’s. Over the past year, I’ve been trying to start loving myself. Just gradually, bit by bit.

That message is there in the webtoon as well. At first Nari was upset at the sudden and constant compliments she was receiving. She felt that they were awkward and not meant sincerely. We’re often blind to the positive aspects of ourselves, as well as our little quirks. We miss things that other people may see. Sure, we have our mistakes and faults. However, we also all have something special about us that may not be noticed right away. Those little, special things are noticed little by little over time. Sometimes, it’s those little things can make a big difference to others too. There are also times we have effects on others, and we’re not even aware of it.

Let’s learn to love ourselves, and accept the love and compliments that we receive.

When people, like our loved ones, give us compliments, it may feel really weird and awkward. In our minds it can be weird and awkward because we think it’s not true, or that it doesn’t suit us. However, the people who spend time with us know us. That time they’ve spent with us has enabled them to see things that we are blind to. They see our little quirks, and the little things that we do. People can criticize and judge us, but there are people who’ll know our true value. We need to realize that we have some wonderful aspects that we may not be aware of. The compliments we receive are out of love and support. We need to learn to accept the positive compliments we receive. By learning to accept these compliments (especially by those we love and care about), we can acknowledge ourselves, and try to love ourselves as well. Sometimes we feel like we’re trash, but there are people who truly love and care about us. I’m still not used to compliments, and I still have trouble accepting them. However, I’m learning and trying to be more positive and to love myself. I wish the same for you as well. I wish you happiness friends, and remember:

Love Yourself

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