Recognize the good

At the moment, the perfect soundtrack serenades while an occupied canine companion, Qhana, eradicates what is left of a partially chewed night-dress. On today's playlist is Mr. Hong's album long days.short years; an album, which from the first second, resonates deeply and influences an immediate productivity boost on one of those working from home days. 

A minute or so in, the sound of someone knocking on a door sounds too authentic to disregard. Mine perhaps? Affixed to the futon and hesitant to interrupt comfort, the delayed realization that this knocking was actually an effect in the song causes quiet relief. This reflective moment influences a paramount shift in focus. Slouching into deeper comfort, the futon adjusts to suit. Engrossed in this moment of relaxation, thoughts start their ritualistic consummation, drifting into familiar spaces and honing in on a word from the previous paragraph. The word affixed bares particular consequentiality as a comparison comes speeding through like a bullet train without a need to stop. It goes like this - just like a body affixed to the futon, so too is a mind to negative personality traits; a commonality that has a proven track record. Marginally engrossed with this current mental conversation, superficial self-exploration brings to light a tendency to gravitate towards this type of behavior - the behavior of affixing to the bad versus the good - the negative traits versus the positive. 

As Mr. Hong's long days.short years ends, another gem ignites an aural romance. Midnight Walk; one of those treasured YouTube suggestions redirects thoughts to what can be viewed as a reassuring personality moment. 

The moment was on stage at the Miss Teen Trinidad and Tobago pageant. There is always an award for the person with the best personality. Whether called Miss Amity or Best Personality, Largest Heart or Most Charitable, this type of award hints at the quality and authenticity of magic others see. The knowledge of this award was shared from the beginning of the pre-pageant process, therefore a pleasant personality was expected when out at engagements, during rehearsals, at press sessions and so on. As teenagers in a teen pageant, self-esteem issues were as noticeable as the morning sunshine peeking through a bedroom window. Competitiveness also co-existed, making the aforementioned justifiable. Words like "just be yourself" lacked meaning, as critically and negatively judging oneself as a means of finding one's true and better self - for the sake of excelling and winning prizes - became a preferred routine. 

At the Miss Teen Trinidad and Tobago pageant, the main vote was held a couple of days before the show. On a small piece of paper, I penned the name of co-delegate Kendra Kissoon - a strikingly beautiful girl with a genuine and infectious happiness.

Confident the award was Kendra's from the get-go, constant analyzation and comparison of her personality to mine became part of the process. Negative inner criticism gave way to a gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment after engagements, certain in some way about even the slightest absence of pleasantness and uncertain about its impact on others. Importance was placed on a constant need to align with Kendra's personality as the genuine nature of it lacked any sign of forgery. The driving force behind that thought process was the acclaim of being well-liked: selfish but true. As a result, overcompensation went into overdrive to disguise trapped pleasantries and as an opposing means of staying honest. It then became a bit of a reliance and the understanding of this reality cheered on the negative criticisms resulting in the depreciation of self-esteem; a handy tool for a beauty queen. This behavioral cull, consequently affected opinion, on a personal level, enabling negative inner criticism to run rampant and allowing constant comparison of oneself to others to kick in as intentionally as a vigorous anesthetic. 

Fast forwarding a bit, the winners were all announced on the night of the show.

Right up to the last second, that feeling of nervousness maybe more anxiousness, usually felt when the probability of winning something exists, took over. As one of twelve delegates, the probability of winning this award existed as either a passing or a stagnant thought. Everyone or at least most hoped to be awarded a prize for something. Math aside, the uncertainty of winning this particular award seemed greater than the hope probability provided. Needless to say, if only for the sake of the many months of self-bashing, the idea that maybe chance could produce rewarding results seemed to appease. Therefore, it goes without saying - when the announcer said the words, and the winner of the award for Miss Amity is, Tiva Lee Samaru, shock raced into the present like electricity through live wires. Immediately after receiving the award and walking off stage, memories of discreditation swooned like flood waters. The winner is the person with the highest number of votes. Did they count wrong? It almost seemed incomprehensible. Just an award many would say and even question all the fuss, but when recollection shows the affliction incurred for the sake of this victory, it makes the gesture even more honorable. 

Years after this experience, the right kind of internal butterflies took flight, making every experience an adventure and an opportunity to recognize the good within. Admittedly, on some days, dubiousness about the strength of following through with this new found way of being, felt as daring as walking along a winding road with closed eyes. An extreme comparison, but certainly slightly agreeable. Nowadays, the approach is different, as, for years, practice helped perfect better ways of introspection and inner criticism - healthier ways. This way of being, took some time to cultivate with a lot of room left for improvement.

Truthfully, before the pageant, personality issues lacked utmost importance, therefore inner criticism generally stayed quiet. Yes, as a teenager, simple moments of self-doubt and questioning of morals, ethics, and decision-making existed but generally, introspection was more positive than negative. However, during the Miss Teen Trinidad and Tobago pageant, negative introspection was innate primarily because the stakes were high. The gains were significant. The difficulty to just trust in oneself and to just follow that "be yourself" rule stayed strong because in reality if that rule was followed, the surfacing of less desirable behaviors became probable - a situation a beauty queen would rather avoid, merely for the sake of, on the surface, having a great personality. 

In everyday life, being nominated for or winning a personality award is rare and even if that possibility exists, a nomination or a win guarantees nothing more than acclaim and what good is that if it ends with some form of self-destruction. That being said, the best form of acclaim is the reward given to yourself from yourself. The reward of recognition. Yes, be aware of the bad, but more importantly, recognize the good and allow that to be the modus operandi. Remember, when the mind affixes to a negative thought pattern, toxicity becomes a problem, with several steady battles for change waiting like soldiers on the battlefield. From personal experience, toxicity tampers with self-esteem and endangers the opportunity to notice, experience, and appreciate any good impact as this negative inner criticism preoccupies the mind and overshadows the ability to thoroughly enjoy each present moment with doubt, complaint, and uncertainty.

As previously mentioned, it took time to understand the importance of allowing the good to become a personal modus operandi. Even now as a more emotionally connected person, recognizing those positive traits and allowing myself the chance to relish in non-judgemental self-appreciation still at times feels like a perpetual challenge. More than that, embracing the positive and adopting this as a circadian principle requires constant work as in reality, the negative seems less laborious especially in a world where positivity struggles to stay trending. 

Regardless, challenge yourself to find a balance between the negative and positive personality traits. Challenge yourself to ditch the self-bashing, toxic self-talk, and negative inner criticism. Challenge yourself to adopt a more praising way of analyzing the things that need to be fixed. Continue to elevate the body and mind by elevating the positive within yourself. Avoid ending up like that overly analytical and critical pageant girl.

Remember the way to rise up above the negative and to be confident about yourself is not by self-bashing, but by wholistically recognizing the good, embracing it, sharing it and ultimately encouraging others to do the same.

Honors, Miss Teen T&T, 2001Tiva Samaru