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How to Look Pretty

Previous short story:
The First Rain, The Last Rain
Next short story:
Lady Midnight

To look pretty is to feel pretty. And to feel pretty?

You’re a tudung bawal kind of girl. If you want to join the bandwagon and start donning shawls, then by all means, do. But it’s more than okay if you don’t. You’re alright. You don’t have to succumb to any kinds of pressure; your friends, your boyfriend, everyone around you. Whenever you feel unpretty (if that is a word), remember that you were the girl who climbed the rooftop and ate nasi lemak with your crazy girlfriends. During night preparation class in school.

You like Muse and you cry over Westlife separating. That’s fine. You like old songs and know every word to The Logical Song and Breakfast in America when it belonged to Supertramp. You listen to songs your parents sing in the car, that’s fine too. It doesn’t define who you are, and liking bands that cool kids like doesn’t make you one of them. Do you want to be one of them? Kings of Leon, The Kooks, The Cure, do you want Google ‘cool bands’ and pretend to like them? Don’t. So you know a song from this band and that. What matters is that you listen to songs with histories close to your heart. What matters is that you listen to songs that bring you closer to people once close to you.

You’re not artistic. You can’t draw to save your life, whereas other people doodles their hearts out so effortlessly. They design their own book covers and they can doodle on their shoes making it so personal. You don’t have to. You’re a wiz with Photoshop and you know everything to know about editing with Microsoft Powerpoint, which most people don’t. How many people do you know can make their own animated pictures without going online? And how many of those learnt by themselves? 

Your handwriting is so mechanical. Your whole life, in fact, is almost mechanical. That’s given, because you had always wanted to be an electrical engineer. Don’t let anything get in your way. 

You’re always so nice to people, or so you think. You always think of how’d they feel if you do this and that, and you wonder why they don’t think about you. They’re their own person, and you stick to what you feel is right, because that’s who you are and who you have always been. It is okay. Repeat after me. It is okay if you’re not treated quite the way you want to be. It’ll all come together at the end.

You’re actually one of those kids that people hate. The kind that wants to know your mark immediately after a test. That’s for you to keep to yourself, somehow. Everyone learns to fight his or her own battle. For this one, you’re in a one-man army. You’re a born geek, just feel cute about that.

It’s okay that you don’t have the coolest handbags, or leather jackets, or boots, or that you don’t wear sunglasses because you’re shortsighted. You don’t have to be any other person, and you don’t have to end up making yourself feel stupid. You are the girl with jeans and tshirt, and a stupid black tudung with a sling bag. A really worn out Nike watch and some pretty bracelets.

It’s okay that you suck at driving, because you’re so gifted in many other things. It sucks, for sure, but in time you’ll be better. “You can move the lands and the mountains with the touch of your heart.”

This is the kind of things that makes me feel unpretty. I don’t know about you. Dig it up, let it out, embrace it, accept it. Be proud of yourself, of where you come from. Be proud that you’re a Kelantanese and that you’re a true Warrior, that whatever people throw at us, we can handle. Of budu and and of the most extraordinary nasi kerabu. Live you life they way you want it, not moulded by those around you, especially the ones that aren’t going to stick around. 

Whenever you are saddened by things making you feel not enough, imperfect, and hating yourself, take a step back and breathe. And believe that it’s okay, that you’re alright, you’re much more than enough. He made everyone just fine.

Be true to yourself.


You are loved, by people who actually matter. Why worry? 

Previous short story:
The First Rain, The Last Rain
Next short story:
Lady Midnight

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