Rebel In Sheep’s Clothing

IT’S GEMINI SEASON. I’LL BE TURING 33 in a few days. I believe I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. When I try to remember why I used to be so miserable I realize I don’t recognize who I used to be. How many versions of me have there been before? They’re gone. They are just memories of a time when I wanted to be a certain way and accomplish things. I have none of the things I dreamed of 20 years ago. I did not become successful in anything. And I am certainly not living happily ever after with Prince Charming. In the year 2018, nothing really matters anymore. I am truthfully satisfied with who I am now, and as minuscule as I am, I genuinely feel, dare I say, happy.

I’ve had so many lives / Since I was a child / And I realize / How many times I’ve died (Nobody Knows Me, Madonna)

Happiness is a choice, not a casualty. I was going to psychotherapy in my early twenties. I was drowning in depression and dealing with anxiety and OCD. One morning I felt so hopeless and lost, and all the sudden it finally clicked, like some kind of epiphany. When I walked into my shrink’s office that day, I said: “This is the last time I’m coming,” she looked at me very confused and asked why I was taking that decision so abruptly, “I realized happiness is a choice. I could come here talk about my feelings and my issues forever, but it will not help me or make any difference unless I choose to be happy,” I said. A decade later, I ask myself, do I even have another choice?

Gone are the days when I day-dreamed of living in America, having a husband, and a successful career. Over the years, I eventually changed dreams for plans, until I realized I didn’t plan anything really, and now I’m just here. Have I settled or have I just given up in life? I know I’m not quiet finished settling, but I’m pretty much only waiting to die any day now. I just have no cares in this world. And I am not looking for anything or anyone, anymore. I’m at peace and it feels good and empowering.

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life / Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die / No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change, but I’m here in my mold (Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Verve)

1
How To Be A Heartbreaker

(How To Be A Heartbreaker, Marina & The Diamonds)

The bubble has been bursted. I feel I was lied to all my life and tricked into believing I needed to find love to live. The love of a man. I have an exquisite taste in music. I have a carefully curated music library, yet there are countless songs about not being able to live without you, or being nothing without you, or being lost without you. Not to mention the ones begging for this man to come back and love me, because, no one will ever love me as much as you do, except that, in fact, there is someone.

I discovered I will love myself forever. I will love myself more than anyone in the universe. I discovered no man will ever love me as much as I love myself. I discovered I do not need a man. No matter how many romantic comedies I’ve seen. No matter how much society tricked me into thinking I cannot possibly exist alone and that I need to have a man to feel complete. I am wide awake, and I see now: I DO NOT NEED A MAN, nor I want one. I don’t want to live for someone else. I’ve never been one to follow traditions just because, so I don’t care about getting married and having kids. For three decades, finding true love was the ultimate goal. It was the mere reason of my existence. It was the drug I always craved. It was the only way I could imagine a happy life. I was completely intoxicated by Hollywood, popular music, and most importantly, Disney — as I elaborated in another essay.

It’s no fun, but the damage is done / Don’t want your social disease (Nobody Knows Me, Madonna)

Last week I was having sex with a guy I met on Grindr, and I was about to cum, but he wasn’t. I asked him to cum with me, and he said he was not going to because he didn’t want to. It was strange to me, but I just minded my own business and had my happy ending. “Why didn’t you want to cum?” I asked him after, when we were cuddling, “I just don’t like peaking when I really like a guy” he said. I didn’t ask him to elaborate. Instead, I asked him questions about his love life. “How long have you been single?” “Why did you break up?” and the likes. I didn’t care about it, I was just trying to manipulate him into asking me the same questions. That’s what I’ve been doing every time a guy shows any hints of romantic interest in me.

Rule number one, is that you gotta have fun / But baby when you’re done, you gotta be the first to run / Rule number two, just don’t get attached to / Somebody you could lose (How To Be A Heartbreaker, Marina & The Diamonds)

I work in customer service by email. In this business sometimes we need to compose the message we send to the customer, we are supposed to personalize our responses as much as possible, but due to the nature of this business, most of the time we use templates. Sometimes I create my own templates. When this guy asked the first question about my romantic life, I used the following template:

“Well, I’ve been single since 2016. The longer I’m single, the more I like being single. I learned I am not meant to be in a relationship, — they always interrupt to ask why — because I’m too selfish and I’m self-absorbed. I don’t want to have to care for anyone else’s feelings. I don’t want to have to please anyone. I enjoy doing whatever I want, whenever I want. And of course I cannot be like that with a boyfriend. I am too happy single and I don’t want to ruin this happiness. I feel a man would ruin my happiness because it would all not be about me anymore, and the worst is when you start questioning his love and you get jealous, or you feel insecure, or you seek for his approval because you realize his love is not unconditional. I don’t want to live that life. I am not like everybody else, you know, people have the need to be in a relationship to feel good with themselves for many different reasons, and I get it, but I just don’t feel like that anymore. Of course, I’m human, sometimes I do feel I need someone in my life, but just not enough to actually want someone. I love myself too much and I only want to care about myself. I feel I am everything I need. I am enough for myself, so I’m genuinely happy single, and I want to keep it that way.”

Every word was absolutely true. It is not exaggerated nor embellished. By the time I’m finished, they realize they are barking at the wrong tree. Little do they know I am a tease. I never try to lead them on, but I definitely love the attention, and I always get it my way.

I think I did it again / I made you believe we’re more than just friends / Oh baby / It might seem like a crush / But it doesn’t mean that I’m serious / ‘Cause to lose all my senses / That is just so typically me / Oh baby, baby (Oops, I Did It Again, Britney Spears)

One of those romantic comedies I still love and adore, Confessions Of A Shopaholic, contains a quote that pretty much sums up what my views about men are right now: “A man will never love you or treat you as well as a store. If a man doesn’t fit, you can’t exchange him seven days later for a gorgeous cashmere sweater. And a store always smells good. A store can awaken a lust for things you never even knew you needed. And when your fingers first grasp those shiny, new bags… oh yes… oh yes,” said Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher).

2
Work Bitch

(Work Bitch, Britney Spears)

Twenty years ago, when I was thirteen, I imagined I would be “thirty, flirty, and thriving,” like Jenna Rink aspired to be in 13 Going On 30. It’s one of my favorite fantasy romantic comedies, and when I saw it back in 2004, when I was a fresh out-of-high-school 19-year-old gay kid with acne that was just diagnosed with depression, I still saw a bright successful future ahead in my thirties, when all the struggles, misery, and loneliness would be a thing of the past. The day I turned 30, I woke up and I thought to myself: Everything’s different, but nothing’s changed. Three years later, I see things haven’t changed, but I have.

I’m not thriving in a career, as I imagined I’d be by now. I never really knew what I wanted to be. When I was a little kid I wanted to be an architect. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a fashion designer. If only I could sing, I’m sure I would also have dreamed of being a popstar. If I was taller, I would have dreamed of being a runway model. I day-dreamed of all these things, but I didn’t dare to really dream it could be possible for me. When you’re born in a poor country and all people do is survive paycheck to paycheck, I don’t think you feel you are allowed to be delusional, as my mom would probably think.

When I saw The Devil Wears Prada, I wanted to be like Miranda Priestly. I wanted TO BE her. I was enraged when Andrea walked out right after Miranda said “Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.” The way Meryl Streep portrayed Miranda Priestly was for me, my spirit animal: glamorous, sophisticated, subtle, demanding, and bitchy.

I’ve never been lucky, except for the time when I was hired as a graphic designer when I was 20. I was lucky because graphic design was just my hobby. I never got any type of degree for it. I was self-taught, yet I was good at it and I ended up being a graphic designer for 10 years, and at 25 I was making twice, and sometimes almost three times, the money I’m making now… in customer service. Passion ran out, I was bored, and I ended up screwing my thriving career in graphic design.

I got a bachelor’s degree in Marketing when I was 26, but I only did it just because. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, and I still don’t. I don’t have a dream to work for.

I’m alright though. I don’t have the most convenient job, but it pays the bills — most of them. When I first got into customer service I assumed it was temporary. I had just moved alone to this city and I figured eventually I would find a job I could love or even have better opportunities. Customer service is what you do when you’re transitioning and looking for something better. I din’t care much about it. It’s been four years now. It is not temporary. It was hard to admit and it was heartbreaking, but once I accepted the fact I didn’t have any other option, I started to see the good side of it: I am able to make more money and work in a company where I feel really comfortable at. Money is all that really matters anyway. Passion and an exciting career is for the lucky ones.

Depression has been under control for the last two years, and so I feel pretty good in life right now. Even if I have nothing I always wished for. I’ve got a new found optimism that I didn’t think it could be possible three years ago.

I’ve been doing the best job I possibly can, and it makes me sad it is still not enough. I’ve applied twice in the last few months for a better position in management, but I am still not good enough.

It broke my heart the day I got my first rejection letter. I didn’t even read it. The day they announced the candidates they selected, they made a big fuss in the floor and everyone was clapping and congratulating them. It’s very easy to me to put on my poker face any time I need to, but this time, it took a lot of effort. It took a lot of effort to fake a smile. I controlled my anger and my disappointment until it hurt inside. At that moment I didn’t want to clap. All I wanted was to walk out, go home, and cry.

I stayed there and I politely congratulated one of the lucky ones when he approached me. I smiled and I held my anger tears. It’s all I always do. Just hold it inside. “Oh Charlie, you’re just not good enough,” said the voice inside my head. “Oh Charlie, they just don’t think you’re good enough,” it whispered over and over that sad afternoon, and it hasn’t stopped ever since. But I am not going to be defeated, and I will continue to fight for it, even if they don’t think I am good enough.

Tell me I’m no good and I’ll be great / Say I have to fight and I can’t wait (Iconic, Madonna)

When the second rejection letter came, “You can keep it,” I said to my boss, and I walked away completely unbothered. I was aware I was not the best candidate for that position in particular. I’ve continued to work to the best of my ability. I don’t know if I will succeed sooner or later. I often wonder if I will. I wonder what is it that they don’t see in me.

“I’m afraid they think I’m too immature,” I told my friend at work. “Why you say that?” she asked. “I’m perky and silly. That’s just the way I am. You know I’m always laughing and talking about dumb shit all the time. And everybody does, but not the ones who are considered, or who want to be considered. I’m afraid they think that’s the way I will be if hey give me a management spot. You know I take it seriously, you’ve seen me, but what if they don’t. What if being myself is sabotaging me? but I can’t be someone I’m not.”

Hey, hey, hey / You think that I’m a little baby / You think that I am fragile like a Fabergé / You think that I am cracking, but you can’t break me / No, no way (Hey Hey Hey, Katy Perry)

“I’ve been working hard and I do my best, and I don’t ever get any recognition,” I said when one of my coworkers asked me how I was feeling with the recent happenings at work. “Many are being recognized only because they have high numbers, but you and I know, they do a lousy job. It’s discouraging. I know I am one of the best, don’t you agree?” “There are a lot of people that are better than you, you’re not one of the best, but you could be good in other things,” he said. He was not trying to be mean in any way, he’s a very nice guy, so I said nothing and I continued having my lunch, and changed the subject. In a matter of seconds this comment destroyed me and I had to put all my pieces back together and smile. As I always do.

‘Cause, baby, I could build a castle / Out of all the bricks they threw at me (New Romantics, Taylor Swift)

I didn’t want him to elaborate. I didn’t want him to say things I probably didn’t want to hear. I chose to believe he meant I was not one of the best because I don’t give them numbers. I understand this business is about numbers, but never in any job, I will give them quantity over quality.

In the end, I’m not really interested in crafting a successful career. Those dreams or plans are dead. I only want to be good — if not the best at my job — and make money to live a comfortable life and save some for later when I retire, because I am paving the road that will keep me lonely, and I will most likely die alone. That’s completely okay, but I will need money to take care of myself until my last breath. Money is everything. Money is life.

If money can’t buy happiness / Then why is it so fabulous? (Money, Poppy)

3
Bubblehead

(Bubblehead, Christina Aguilera)

I’ve never been interested in being popular. I want the opposite. I strive for individuality. Sometimes I’ve wondered if the things I do or say are only to set me apart from the crowd or because I am really like that. There is a blurred line between how I want people to perceive me and what I actually am, but nothing makes me more instantly angry than when people think they got me all figured out and they say they know what I’m like or what I want. Nobody knows me at all, not even my parents. They only see different versions of me, but not all of them. I’m a gemini after all, and perhaps I am somewhat crazy.

You can paint me any color / And I can be your clown / But you ain’t got my number / No, you can’t pin me down (Can’t Pin Me Down, Marina & The Diamonds)

My opinions have never been popular. Sometimes I boast I have the nerve to say exactly what I think if they ask my opinions about religion, politics, or any other sensitive subjects. I’m not afraid to offend anyone and I am blatantly honest whenever my opinion is asked. If nobody asks, I simply keep my thoughts to myself, which is something most people should learn to control.

“You are not atheist,” many of my acquaintances have got the audacity to utter. My intellect is average, but when people question my religious beliefs, or lack of them, by attempting to make reason of such a dumb statement as “you are not an atheist, because by being an atheist you are denying the existence of god; you wouldn’t deny its existence unless you think it is there” makes me feel like I am the Einstein of my generation. (It is not a typo, I like spelling that word with a lower case G, thank you very much). Rhetoric and semantics are the tools stupid people commonly use to try and prove a point.

I don’t remember very well, but I think I was between 13 to 15 when I identified myself as atheist. I’ve always been a rebel at heart. And when I was a teenager I wanted everyone to know I hated them all and everything they were about. I wanted everyone to know I did not care one bit about being accepted or being popular in any way, shape, or form. I didn’t go out of my way to prove anything or to be anything. I just looked within, for years, and realized that the only reason I believed in god was because it is a tradition. Raised in a very catholic family, in an extremely catholic school, and in an absurdly catholic society, I had a playground, and I loved it. Blasphemy was my hobby, until it I got out of high school and no-one cared anymore. I felt superior whenever I saw their faces of disappointment and outrage when I said I was an atheist.

So I took the road less traveled by / And I barely made it out alive / Through the darkness somehow I survived / Tough love, I knew it from the start / Deep down in the depth / Of my rebel heart (Rebel Heart, Madonna)

“But people are dying,” an acquaintance said to me in a Snapchat message after he saw my post complaining of how I have been unable to go sit under a tree at the park and drink my Frappuccino on Sundays, because it has been closed for weeks due to the incessant protests against government. “It’s their fault,” I replied, “They should just stay home watching Netflix.”

It was a horribly insensitive thing to say, but if anyone is reading this, I want you to know that I am absolutely ignorant about politics and whatever is going on in this country. I have never read a newspaper and I haven’t watched the news in many years. I live in utter ignorance by choice. I do not know what’s going on and I don’t want to.

Are we tone deaf? / Keep sweepin’ it under the mat / Thought we could do better than that / I hope we can / So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble / So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble (Chained To The Rhythm, Katy Perry)

“I was trying to get a cab and people started shooting,” he messaged me on Snapchat a week later.  “Nothing’s going to change. They are all just wasting their lives and screwing up the economy,” I replied. I was expecting a snarky defensive comeback, so I was surprised when he replied: “Sadly, what you said is the raw truth.” I’m not smart, but I do have opinions, they are never popular, but they are dead-on on point.

In my defense, living in ignorance a is defense mechanism against depression and anxiety. Unless you also suffer of depression and anxiety, you probably can’t imagine how something so sedentary and harmless as watching the news can make you feel terrible things. I chose to be happy, but in order to be happy I have to live in some kind of bubble.

Not only I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, but when I’m watching Netflix, I also only watch silly light-hearted shows or movies. I cannot watch thrillers, documentaries, or serious dramas, because it makes me horribly anxious, or depressed, or both. For years, I’ve strictly seen feel-good movies only.  I strictly only watch romantic comedies, comedies, drama-comedies, fantasy, or action. The more aloof I am to the real world, the more I get to keep depression under control.

I might not be living la dolce vita inside this bubble, but I certainly live la vie en rose. It’s a fantasy world where everything is totally fine all the time, and it makes me happy. My happiness is all that matters to me.

Disasters all around / A world of despair / Your only concern / “Will it f*** up my hair?” (Stupid Girl, Pink)

My happiness is sipping a cup of Rosé every night and sit in bed to watch Netflix until I fall asleep. My happiness is having a Frappuccino under a tree every Sunday afternoon. Spending hours in Zara trying on clothes, handing my credit card and swiping it several times, and walking out carrying two or more bags. That’s true happiness. In that moment, the world is beautiful, my life is perfect. And when I walk through the bright fluorescent wide halls of the mall and I see myself in all those mirrors, and I look good, it’s almost utopia.

Rebecca Bloomwood comes to mind once more: “When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.”

‘Cause we are living in a material world / And I am a material girl (Material Girl, Madonna)

The world does not need me to care for anything. This country does not need me to protest against anything. There are plenty of people who care and want to fight to change things and make them better. They’re okay without me. I’ll just continue sipping.

Drinking champagne, made by the angel / Who goes by the name of Glittering Gabriel / Drinking champagne made of an angel’s / Tears and pain, but I feel celestial (Shampain, Marina & The Diamonds)

Being a bubblehead is also my ultimate attempt at rebellion in my incessant search for individualism. It is my way of saying to the world: I don’t give a f*** about you and your expectations, and you can all go f*** yourselves.

I don’t need my opinions to be popular or validated by anyone; in fact, it thrills me when no one shares my opinions. It’s an amazing  feeling to push people’s buttons by simply sharing my opinion.

I don’t like the music everyone around me listens to, and I don’t care that no-one shares my musical taste — I’m really happy they do not even know who Marina & The Diamonds is, for example, or why they haven’t heard about Britney Spears in years — and I don’t care about the latest Avengers movie, like they do. I am not on Facebook because I am absolutely not interested in anyone’s life or about their opinions about anything, and I seriously do not want to see those hideous and disgusting memes they share. I’m not interested in being deep or substantial, like everyone pretends they are; I’m perfectly fine being shallow and vapid. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m too gay because my favorite color is pink and because I worship Madonna and Britney Spears as if they were goddesses. People usually confuse my kindness and my cheerful and bubbly personality with stupidity, but I don’t mind if they think I’m stupid, because I probably am.

I simply do not want to fit in, like everyone does. My rebel heart will always seek for individualism and independence.

I am never gonna give you anything you expect / You think I’m like the others / Boy, you need to get your eyes checked, checked (Can’t Pin Me Down, Marina & The Diamonds)

4
Rebel Heart

(Rebel Heart, Madonna)

In thirty three years I’ve learned I am not a wolf, but I’m definitely not a sheep either. I might be a fox. Foxes live, and work, and eat, and sleep alone. I’m a Solitaire, and this song describes exactly the way I am and the way I live:

Hard like a rock, cold like stone / White like a diamond, black like coal / Cut like a jewel / Yeah, I repair myself when you’re not there / Solitaire / Something you consider rare / I don’t wanna be compared / With that cheap shimmer and glitter / Solitaire (Solitaire, Marina & The Diamonds)

Nevertheless, I’m not all bad. I live under one single rule: treat everyone the way you want to be treated. I have nothing but respect towards everyone around me, even if I may not like them. I’m nice and polite even when I don’t want to be. All I ask is to be left alone. “I don’t like defining myself, I just am,” Britney Spears once said. I’m just me: a rebel in sheep’s clothing.

This is who I am / You can like it or not / You can love me / Or leave me / ‘Cause I’m never gonna stop / No no (Like It Or Not, Madonna)

XOXO,
Charlie