Central Station, Sydney. Circa August 2007
I arrived on the platform with my Signpost Maths book in one hand and a $2 combination fried rice in the other.
“TONY!!” a girl yelled with excitement.
She was really pretty, it took me a good 5 seconds (a long time when you’re gawking with your mouth hanging open) to figure out who she was.
Her name was Chloreen. And only a month ago, she was an Ug0 (pronounced “ugg zero” - community language for a very unattractive girl).
Thick glasses, braces, and a pony-tail to match. She had a crush on me in tutoring class.
But now… she was an 8. Dyed blonde hair, straight white teeth and a beaming smile that only exists on Ug0’s who became 8’s.
The train ride home was quite … exciting to say the least.
Having gone to an academic all boys high school, the longest conversation I had with a girl - excluding MSN and ICQ - was probably a 20 second exchange on the colour of her rubber (the thing that erases things written with pencil, for those born after 1989).
I don’t remember the conversation but I do remember the feeling. I was giddy and giggling like a little school girl, overflowing with validation.
At the end of the train ride, she said 4 words which I couldn’t really comprehend: we should hang out :)
The date itself was quite brutal. I wore my best tennis shoes and favourite oversized wrestling shirt (Goldberg). I even wore the branded underwear my mom got me from a night market in China, a pair of Kevin Kleens.
Not really sure where to take her, I did what’s safe - I took her to a cheap chinese takeaway store with amazing noodle soup and nice green seats.
I never saw her again.
In a DESPERATE attempt to salvage an ounce of dignity, I did what every self-respecting man should do in these situations - beg.
Me: Please… I will treat u right, just give us a chance...
Her: You know what’s funny, I actually liked you before… but sorry…
That night I sunk into an abyss of darkness and hopelessness… At that point I wasn’t sure what I did wrong. Studying trigonometry was meant to bring me eternal happiness… my parents were SO sure of it!
But as much as our parents want the best for us, what they often end up doing is force us to chase THEIR dreams, which will usually lead to one outcome: disaster.
Now there are many ways to avoid that, but the best way from first-hand experience, and suggested by many who walked before me, is to follow YOUR heart.
Whether you are an accountant who wants be a musician, an engineer who wants be a personal trainer, a shy guy who wants a beautiful girlfriend...
Follow your inner voice.
Fast forward 10 years, I’m about to head off to another date with a very attractive girl (no more labelling girls on a scale ). This time I’m wearing a tight fitting shirt, matching belts and shoes, and actual Calvin Kleins.
But in reality, none of that matters.
It’s simply about having the courage to put your true yourself out there, and see if she likes you for the real you.
And that’s the most potent thing to come of this journey.
The chase for validation and getting that extra notch is naturally fun and thrilling, but real happiness and fulfillment comes from escaping that invisible prison that enslaves our soul, and gaining freedom to be who you want to be - yourself.
The choice is yours.
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