A personal essay for something that I believe in with personal anecdotes that changed me as a person.
I’ve always accepted the fact that I would never live up to my parents’ true expectations with them always comparing me to my much older and much more successful sisters. They would always one-up me in certain areas my parents deemed fit, but I always outdid them in my own areas. To them, I was “not good enough” and this always reflected who I was. I would constantly ask people, “Who or what am I to you?” and they’d almost always reply with, “You’re Jenny Chen” and this confused me more.
I discovered I was never myself around people because I always thought, “Just pretend to be Victor Di Salvo, then they’ll like you.” It always worked because I never knew anyone as eccentric and spontaneous as Victor, but this image started to fade as I began to discover myself.
At first, it was difficult to figure out who I really was because of people telling me who to be. It was when I chose to take a step towards change, to do something different. So, I decided to join colorguard and that resulted in me meeting a person named Christine David who began to shape who I was.
I saw how she freely moved with her friends when performing their show “One Way Street” and saw just how jubilant she was with being herself. Never did I see her persona falter or change as mine constantly did, and she seemed so extremely happy. However, I also saw through her Facebook posts of how her struggles only made her a stronger person and they made her who she was. I would scroll through post after post of optimism until I hit the end of when her posts came to a halt on January 24, 2012.
That was when she passed away. All the masks and personas I’ve held onto completely crumbled. Despite how little we knew of our existence, I saw parts of myself in her as that crazy-inspiring person, a great performer and most importantly, someone who could freely be themselves.
I knew that I no longer wore the mask of Victor Di Salvo. From then, I believe that as one person leaves this world, they connect roads and streets for others to discover. Christine’s passing made me realize that I wanted to continue her optimism and begin being myself. The streets I walk are paved with adversities that no longer drag me down, but made me see who “Jenny Chen” really was.
In colorguard, I am that fierce, confident and passionate performer. In leadership, I am that awkward and silent newbie. To my family, I am the spoiled youngest, quiet and different. However, to my friends, I am, quoted by them, “a girl with her mind and heart in the right place.”
I believe in being who you want to be and to not let others put you down, and I believe in pushing past the limit and to wander beyond that “One Way Street” of masks and mimes.