“I don’t care what you think of me. I am who I am. And you better accept me for who I am.”
I’ve heard this sentence. A lot. From everywhere. And most of the times, it’s spoken with a sort of pride, with an air of righteousness, as though the speaker said some profound and deep truth.
Well, how do I say it nicely? Since “I am who I am” and I’m a straightforward brute, I’ll call it for what it is: It’s freaking bullshit. Of course, the above sentence has some ring of truth in it, to a certain degree, but let’s face it—most people misuse it. I think it’s just an excuse for people not to change their unpleasant ways, and somehow push the blame to the other person for not being accepting them who they “are”.
No, I firmly believe that if there are some bad qualities about you that bother people, it’s up to you to find out about it, and change that about yourself. There is nothing humiliating about it. Everyone has their flaws, but it’s what we do about them that matters.
I recently went through a big conflict with one of my best friends. You might know her. Her name is Jing Wen, and I’ve been talking incessantly about her for the last few weeks.
You’ve seen her face plastered all over my blog, because we went to Hong Kong together and I spend every weekend with her. With all the time we spend with each other, we were bound to have some conflicts.
The conflict came about a week after the Hong Kong trip, after I wrote a post about Jing Wen and her overuse of the word “nice”. I didn’t mean to make fun of her. My relationship with her is one full of banters and friendly teasing, so I did not think that it was a big deal. Also, I wasn’t really singling her out, but using her as a representation of most Singaporeans.
Well, Jing Wen reads my blog, and when she read that post, she was damn pissed. At first I thought she was kidding, but unfortunately, she was dead serious, for once. All of a sudden, she unleashed on me everything that had been bothering her ever since the start of the HK trip:
I walked too fast.
I walked too much.
I snapped at her when she misread the map and got us lost.
I complained about the horrible plane, which she took the trouble to book for us.
I teased her too much about her language troubles.
I said insensitive things that hurt her.
I showed too much annoyance in my expression if she made a silly comment, etc.
But her deepest grievance against me was my brutal honesty. As I mentioned on this post, I speak before I think. Correction—I speak exactly the way I think, which reveals a lot of ugly qualities about me: my impatience, my arrogance, my tendency to criticize, my selfishness, my malevolence, and…uh, do we have to go on?
Anyway. You get the point. My mouth is my worst enemy. It betrays me, and it hurts people. Honesty is good, but not if it’s spewed out to the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong words and tone.
When Jing Wen told me this, I was stunned. I knew I had a problem with being too straightforward. But this was the first time anyone actually got this mad, and told me so out loud. It was a huge slap to my face, to realize that I could so unwittingly hurt someone I love as much as Jing Wen. It made me ashamed and aghast to think about all the other people I have hurt in the past who most probably just endured me and kept it to themselves.
Let me confess: it really did not feel good, to discover this trait about myself. But after talking it through with Jing Wen and praying about it, I realized that this conflict was a good thing. Because through this conflict, God revealed to me a flaw about myself which I never bothered to even attempt to change until now. Because of this conflict, Jing Wen and I were able to further develop our friendship, and understand each other more. Because of this conflict, I became more humble and willing to renew myself.
In case you think I’m berating myself and telling myself I’m a horrible person, let me just make it clear that I am not condemning myself. I know who I am. I am God’s beloved and precious child. But unlike what the above sentence implies, I also know that I am not perfect, therefore God is always molding and shaping me to become a more beautiful person. Thus I absolutely believe that there is a reason behind this conflict, and I praise and thank God for allowing it to happen.
So yes, I am who I am. But I am not who I am 5 years from now. I am not who I am 5 years earlier, either. I am constantly changing, and though I acknowledge the fact that I have many unpleasant traits, I will not settle for them. Because even if I may not care what other people think of me, I care about what God desires out of me, and it is not hurting people’s feelings or doing anything that disturbs the peace in our society.
Oh, and Jing Wen and I are still friends. I apologized, and we talked over many misunderstandings. In fact, our friendship has only gotten closer and more intimate. After all, you can’t have a lasting friendship without some struggles to pull the bond tighter. And yeah, I still meet her every single weekend. Before I left for the church retreat in Malaysia, we met up again for lunch and dinner.
Souperlicious is an imitation of The Soup Spoon. It sells (surprise, surprise) soup and sandwiches and pasta and salads. I got the combo meal that came with a big soup, a half-sandwich, iced tea, and a cookie. For my soup, I got the ‘Shroomy Mushroom:
Basically, cream of mushroom soup, served with a wedge of warm focaccia bread. It was just okay. It really wasn’t bad, but I guess after trying the mushroom soup from The Soup Spoon, this just didn’t measure up. It was too liquidy, too diluted, and not enough chunky mushroom.
I thought the focaccia that came with it was pretty good though, and I loved how long and thin it was—perfect for dipping!
For my sandwich, I got the Tokyo Lover sub:
Teriyaki chicken, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, bonito flakes, and nori strips.
This was frankly, quite awful. The bread was a toasted sub that was thicker on each side than the filling itself. It was also over-toasted so the result was dry bread thick and dense as a brick. I can’t stand sandwiches that has more breading than filling, especially if the bread is nasty.
The oatmeal cookie was quite good, though. Thin enough to be crispy, but with a nice chew from the oatmeal.
Jing Wen also got a combo, but with Superior Broth soup:
Clear chicken broth, corn, carrots, celery, and fresh herbs.
This is the only reason why Jing Wen likes this store: the Superior Broth soup. I can see why she loves this soup. It’s clear, light, yet flavorful from the sweetness of the corn and carrots, and the intensity of the chicken stock.
For her combo, she also got a half-pasta, the chicken and mushroom pasta:
I didn’t get to try this, but Jing Wen said it was horrible. I don’t know if she’s exaggerating though, because she finished it anyway. Come to think of it, so did I. Guess this is why we get along so well. We’re both gluttons!
We weren’t feeling too gluttonous on a Sunday afternoon though. I was sick with a sore throat, and she was feeling bloated. But we still ended up at a fancy schmancy restaurant anyway:
Crystal Jade has many different restaurant concepts: Korean, Shanghainese, BBQ, etc. We went to the La Mian Xiao Long Bao branch in Suntec City (La Mian means “hand-pulled noodle” in Chinese).
This particular branch is supposed to be “casual dining” but it still was a step up in class compared to other casual restaurants, especially…the price.
This place always seems to be packed, though. It was past lunchtime, but the area was cramped and full of customers:
Oh look, this girl suddenly decided to be camera-shy. Aww… We perused the menu, but honestly, nothing really jumped out at me. I just had no appetite at all that day, which was disconcerting and rather irritating, because I love feeling hungry and anticipative for the upcoming meal. Since my stomach was not cooperating, I chose with my eyes and ordered the most attractive dish:
I ordered the 4 Variety Dumplings, which came with four pairs of differently shaped and colored dumplings.
Here’s the purple one:
It came stuffed with a spicy chicken filling. I think the wrapper was colored with purple sweet potato.
Here’s the green one:
It came stuffed with stewed pork and preserved vegetable, and the wrapper was colored with spinach or chives.
And here’s the orange one:
It came stuffed with pork, string bean, and preserved olive leaf. No idea where they got the orange color from. Perhaps pumpkin?
Lastly, the kimchi dumpling:
Stuffed with pork and kimchi, of course.
This was my least favorite mainly because it just could not be compared with Korea’s authentic kimchi dumplings. The skin was just too thick as well.
Meanwhile, Jing Wen ordered a dish of Pork Dumplings with Shrimp and Chives:
Plump and juicy. I can’t really find anything wrong with that!
On the side, we enjoyed our complimentary snack of fried peanuts, anchovies, and seaweed that was spiced up with some savory seasoning:
Definitely not a good thing for my throat at the time, but I couldn’t resist…they were just so delicious and crunchy! I can’t say the same for the dumplings, though. They were good, I’m sure…but I just didn’t have enough of an appetite to enjoy it as much as they deserved to be.
But after that, I suddenly had a very strong craving for ice-cream. Ice-cream in Singapore is really expensive—the good kind, I mean. All except one particular famous ice-cream cone:
McDonald’s soft-serve cone! And I don’t know what Singapore’s McD adds into their ice-cream, but the ice-cream cone here is ten times better than the ones back in America. So luscious. So rich. So velvety. And only SGD$0.70 (USD$0.50)!!!
After that cone, I just couldn’t resist buying another:
And to be completely honest, I bought yet another about an hour later. So yeah, I had three ice-cream cones that single day. That’s when I realized that when you have a sore throat, there is just nothing better than soft, creamy, smooth ice-cream that just glides down your throat ever so coolly and sweetly.
The conflict I had with Jing Wen, and the lesson I learned from it wasn’t as cool and sweet to swallow, but the aftereffects were much better than the tummy-ache I had after my 3 ice-cream cones. I’ve learned that I need to be prudent in my speech and actions. I’ve learned that I need to slow down and think about other people’s feelings before I speak (or write). And I’ve learned that Jing Wen and my friendship can withstand just about any conflicts, because as much as we like to tease and mock each other, we really love each other—for who we were, are, and will be.
Now that’s true friendship, and true acceptance.
P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, I have asked Jing Wen if I should delete the post that upset her, but she wanted it left as is, and now she even jokes around about her over usage of the word “nice” herself. And yeah, she already knew beforehand that I would be writing about this past conflict between her and me, so rest assured that she will not be unleashing another torrent of buried grievances at me.
Question of the Day: Ever had a conflict like this with someone, in which you discovered a characteristic about yourself which you need to renew? What trait of yours do you think puts you in the most conflict with others?