[originally posted on my Multiply blog on Sept. 30, 2009)
“You look mature” “Hindi ka mukhang freshman” — I was reminded of these statements the other night when my husband cajoled me with a similar quip (He often, often brags that it doesn’t look as though we have a 10-year gap. But to me it’s obvious because there already are fine lines around his eyes, haha, bitter ako).
I am now 26 years old. Years ago, I kept hearing these statements over and over again. When I was a high school freshie, some would say I look like a high school junior. When I was a college freshie/sophie, people would comment I look like a college junior/senior.
These days, people say, “Ay talaga may asawa ka na?”
First off, I wonder why the obsession to hear people say, “Mukha kang freshman” even though the recipient of the message is a senior (Different story though if you’re already a mom or are in your 40’s and then people would say “You look 20″…now that’s a REAL COMPLIMENT). Some people might have thought that I got offended whenever someone told me I look older (high school – college circa) than I really was. Honestly, I DO NOT. Oh well, I would if when people around smirk and say, “Ay mukhang matanda siya” with their twinkling eyes. But really, just the comment doesn’t bother me. REALLY, DEWMAINE? Really. Why?
Let’s face it: when I was in high school and in college, I did not have sagging skin or even fine lines around my eyes. I did not have dry skin either. If ever people told me those things (that I look older), I know that it’s because my body has already developed into a woman’s (OK fine, a chubby woman’s, that is), and probably because my facial expression doesn’t scream: GULLIBLE! May I dare say, I think I look more, well, ladylike and intimidating than most of my contemporaries (I was itching to say, “more sophisticated” kaso hindi ko kinaya…hahaha!). So why would I be insulted? Moreover, I never ran out of suitors and admirers despite that “I looked older” than my contemporaries. Or maybe I had them because I looked older. Why, I tell myself, Kristine Hermosa certainly didn’t look 17years old at the height of her popularity, right? And Bea Alonzo, I remember reading an article praising her performance in a teleserye where she effectively portrayed a lawyer when in fact she was still 15 years old (I never watched that show, but I think ito yung may mga pangalang YURI, parang ganun). And at Sweet Valley High, Jessica Wakefield and her popular friends always always strived to look like a college gal…because college gals look more sophisticated and are more attractive. So tell me, why should I have been offended? I think I never got mugged because muggers thought I wasn’t someone to mess with…those who were often mugged look nene. I also believe that I often nail job interviews and gain respect from students and school officials alike because I look like I am a force to reckon with…someone whose stance demands deference…Nene-looking gals don’t get that, right?
To those who college and working ladies who feel smug because someone commented, “A mukha kang high school (if you’re in college)” or “Ay mukha kang estudyante pa (if you’re already working)”…STOP FEELING SMUG because if those statements came from me, those are synonymous to “You have that babe in the woods expression” or “You lack the finesse of a lady your age” or “Ang pandak mo.”
Start feeling good about how you look if you are in your 30’s and someone mistakes you as in your 20’s, or in your 40’s and someone mistakes you as someone in your 30’s. Now that’s a real, honest-to-goodness compliment.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved writing. In grade school, I used to write a novel in installments (I never finished it). Our working student (who was in college) even praised my barely begun “novel”. I also used to write essays at the back of my notebook just for fun.
In high school, I used to keep a journal where I put my deepest, darkest feelings about…guess what? Yep, you guessed right. It continued until I was in college, and stopped when I started teaching grammar. Why, you ask? My being too conscious about grammar and syntax clogged the writer in me…it stopped the creative juices from flowing for fear (alliteration came in spontaneously, not intended) of committing grammatical errors.
So from being a writer, I’ve morphed into a speaker. I had no choice but to be one, because I’ve become a teacher—a reluctant one, that is (FYI, I never dreamed of being a teacher because I used to think that teachers are drab [read: no fashion sense, no social life, etc.]…until I met myself, Dewmaine the Teacher, har har).
Being a teacher has taught me so much. Believe it or not, I was very, very KJ. Crack me jokes and I’ll try to remve the fun out of it—I’d take jokes literally and try to explain that it is not possible. Moreover, teaching has really improved the speaker in me. I was never confident in speaking English, especially because I never had an environment filled with English speakers. But then since I teach English grammar, I kinda forced myself to start speaking in English, and trained my tongue to speak English well.
Now, I want to return to writing—my first love. So to other grammar police out there, wag muna akong i-criticize agad ‘pag may wrong grammar ako, OK. Even the most seasoned writers have their editors, right? Don’t worry, I’ll edit this. But I want to be spontaneous and post my blog as soon as I finish. So expect the revisions later pa.
Anyway, I hope you readers will laugh and learn from my posts.