Looking back

It’s weird. Four years ago, before I started blogging for the first time, before  I discovered Goodreads, before my TBR list pushed past 50, there was a 15-year-old me who kept a string of notebooks in which she would write down all things. She swooned over fictional characters (before she even knew what the word “swoon” meant), got excited about sequels in a series that were coming out next year, worried about not having enough money to buy books she desperately wanted, wrote down quotes from Night World series by L. J. Smith, nearly died of anticipation for Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and mused over her life – sometimes encouragingly, more often impatiently and bitterly.

She felt alone. She had just started getting into YA fiction (although she couldn’t have told you what the heck YA was), her family thought it was “just a phase”, her classmates never read English books, and she felt so utterly alone. She had always stood out because of her Asian origin – it wasn’t just heritage for her, but also origin – in a school that had only a handful of Asian-German students. She felt that her friends were having the life she has always wanted – in the center of attention, while she herself stood in the periphery, tentatively taking a step forward, then backward.
She sought acceptance. She just wanted to blend in, so much, but she stood out, so much. She’d look in the mirror and be surprised that she saw a girl who looked Asian. She didn’t feel Asian. She didn’t want to feel Asian.
She also wanted love. That comforting, all-of-the-world kind of love. Looking back, I think she just felt so isolated when she really wasn’t – so she wanted to fill the void by finding the love of her life, who would be there for her and for whom she could be there. She wanted to be counted in, she wanted to be cherished. Who doesn’t? But sometimes the bitterness and the yearning would overcome her – not in any more dangerous way than a sulk and a brood.

When she discovered worlds and people she could love with all her heart, she leapt for them, plunged right in without looking back. It was addictive. Her reality was a blur, but she so loved to read and escape the boring, repetitive and depressing reality.
Reading was a double-edged sword – on the one hand it helped her cope, and it taught her to be happy for small things. She would get ecstatic whenever she got a new book, or smile goofily whenever she re-read her favorite books. Her English improved. She was proud of herself for reading and writing in English without too much difficulty although her sentence structure was simple, her vocabulary repetitive.
On the other hand, she would sometimes take a look at her own life and compare it to her favorite heroines’, and feel dissatisfied. She wanted to be a Shadowhunter, too, or have Janie Hannagan as her best friend. Or have a boyfriend like Caleb. Or be a dhampire and kick ass alongside Rose Hathaway. Or be a psychic like Kaitlyn Fairchild and her friends. (Then she would read a book called Thirteen Reasons Why and be sympathetic for Hannah and acknowledge that her own life didn’t suck that much.)

The last three months of the year 2009 – and at the same time the first three thrilling, intense, happy-fun-happy and thought-provoking months of my reading history – are still vivid in my memory. I remember the concentration with which I read City of Glass for about 8 hours straight, stopping only for dinner. I remember how obsessed I became with the trailer for the Night World series. I remember the delight, the surprised excitement I felt when Vampire Academy box set arrived on my doorstep (carried by my mother). I remember the adrenaline-pumping giddiness whenever I discovered new books and series I wanted to read through the magic that I called the internet (Modern Faerie series by Holly Black, House of Night series by P. C. and Kristin Cast, The Vampire Diaries series and The Forbidden Game trilogy by L. J. Smith, and Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins’ books for later, when I was more “mature”).

The years fly by. I am quite surprised at the person I was mere four years ago. My hopes and dreams I had when I was 15, the way I perceived the world… I’ve changed. But I’ve also remained the same.
These memories – these reminders – are so very precious to me. Only if I don’t forget the past I can  forge my future.
I’m so glad I kept a notebook then. I’m so glad I’m keeping a blog now, so I can look back again when I’m twenty-three.

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