How Your Ugliness Makes You Happier

If you think back, since a decade ago in Bhutan you will realize that every year, we have been increasingly living more of our lives on screen. Now, it has become THE platform for experiencing life itself; everything from entertainment and games to relationships, branding and the fight for humanitarian causes have all shifted online. You can’t even assume that just because someone has their eyes glued to the tiny screen, that they are ‘wasting’ their time because they might just very well be receiving the most life-changing teachings from their beloved Rinpoche.

Photo by Daniele Marzocchi

Likewise, our ideas of beauty and ugliness haven’t been left behind in this hurried march towards converting all of reality into 1s and 0s. Enveloped within this new reality,

if you are not one who does much of the lost art of so called ‘thinking’, you might just believe that everything you see is true, and has always been so.

Scroll through your preferred choice of social media account and you will instantly enter the amazing world of beautiful and perfect people with even more beautiful and perfect lives that puts every description of heaven and pag-sam joen-shing (The wish-fulfilling tree) to shame. These attractive people seem to have the power to bend light and the law of limited resources itself to their will; every picture is a golden hour photo; every video involves an expensive gift from Prada; their skin seems like it’s made from powder dust farted by angles themselves; the list of people that shower them with love and laughter seem longer than the hospital queue; equipped with the latest gadgets and armed to their teeth with cameras pointed squarely at themselves, you are left feeling more useless and unimportant than a sack of rotten potatoes that has been left in the sun too long.

Photo by torbakhopper

A couple of things happen to you at this stage; firstly, you objectify your idol irrespective of whether this is a person close to you, a person whom you only ‘know’ from a distance or a celebrity that is so far away that they are rightly labelled ‘stars’.

This process of objectification happens so naturally and if you think one step beyond, you will realize that by obsessing over them, you have stripped away their humanity from them.

This is the reason why the K-pop idols that Bhutanese youths seem to adore so much and have million of followers, ironically live in bunk beds like middle-schoolers, sign their lives to a company for years and are strictly forbidden to have normal human romantic relationships. Their so-called fans would crucify them and turn on them the instant they reveal that deep-down, they are just humans like the rest of us. Similarly when Chapman was asked why he had shot John Lennon, he said he genuinely didn’t see John Lennon as a human being that would bleed and die. The idol worship thrives on a constructed illusion that has to be kept up with beautiful appearances that attract our eyes, not our minds or our hearts.

The second change that takes over you is that you begin to replace your building blocks from the dull-colored but sturdy soil to the shiny and shifty particles of sand. Imagine how ridiculous you would feel if you saw a person ramming sand, not soil to build a traditional Bhutanese house, just because the person wants the house to look shiny and bright! It’s a house that would collapse the instant you remove the scaffolding right? Similarly, if you allow yourself to be swept up by the trends of the internet, you will start taking these trends as reference points to judge the worth of your life.

Ask yourself this very instant, at what moments you find yourself to be fulfilled and happy?

If your answer lies within the beautifully constructed world of illusions such as the perfect instagram photo that awards you four digit ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘views’, then I am afraid you might be basing your life on reference points that will change within the next ten years. Imagine meeting a forty year old in the middle of the dance floor at Space 34 trying to teach you how to do the dougie or your teacher who is busy making Tik Tok videos with her door shut during student visiting hours. Will you really have the time to learn a new dance move or keep up with the disposable trends that fall out of relevance just as quickly as they come into it, for you to feel worthy?

Likewise, you will realize that just a decade ago, slim, feminine-looking men of ‘Boys over flowers’ with not even a single strand of hair out of place made girls speak in tongues, saying alien things like “oppa” while now, muscular hunks that put themselves on display like proud barbie dolls in perfect boxes have girls saving their photos in their ‘secret’ folders wishing their boyfriend resembled these dolls. Think about the punk rock music that you used to listen to and love, which has now been replaced by bass-saturated hip-hop and rap. Such comparisons can be made endlessly to every aspect of life.

At this point if you already haven’t, you must ask yourself one very simple and important question, “Do I really want to base my life on reference points with a decade-long expiry date?”

If you are still reading up until here, I have probably managed to put some of your insecurities directly under the spotlight, as I have done with mine, which is really the main reason why I believe this topic is completely undiscussed and extremely important. Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered THE answer but I have discovered MY answer. I hope that what little I have to share, you would give me the benefit of your belief, as words that I speak from my heart; and spark something of a journey into searching for you own within.

Without going too much into detail, suffice to say that I lived an idyllic, satisfied and ‘successful’ childhood, making my parents proud and being enveloped by adoration from teachers and friends as the class topper; back when awards, certificates, praises and attention meant so much! That however didn’t last too long, as I grew and began going through what I imagine most normal youths who don’t suffer from egomania go thorough, self-doubt.

Photo by marcus greco

Naturally, I began to realize that there were more people in the world than I could meet or count that were smarter, looked way better, sociopath level charm, much wealthier, powerful, on their way to success and loved by so many. Proportionate to this idolization of people that ranged from those within my own friend groups to foreign celebrities with pale-white skin, my own life began its slow descent into intense scrutiny and unhealthy doses of self-deprecation. Thinking back, I can’t say with any reasonable degree of certainty, how long I was trapped within that whirlpool.

I only remember being spun around constantly and sinking deeper and deeper, basically, constructing my own beautiful, attractive and shiny world of illusion that left me unhappier when put up against the test of time.

Feeling hopeless and constantly let down within this seemingly beautiful and fantastical world, I started to look towards the more ‘dull’ side of life; or more accurately the side of life that we have cast aside as ‘dull, ugly and thus silenced’, simply because it refuses flatly to participate in our twisted game of one-upping each other and constant statistical comparisons that equate our lives to nothing more than numbers and algorithms: the perfect waist to hip ratios, the perfect symmetry for faces, the ideal skin tone, the perfect boyfriend, ten ways to get any girl and the endless slew of nonsense that shit on the innate preciousness of life and the story of the blind turtle.

Photo by BrotherM

It was here that I also realized that our ugliness and insecurities, if we accepted and embraced them, were the equivalent of the biggest middle finger that you could possibly give to this crazed and lunatic world that tries to swallow your individuality in its great wave; that hypnotizes you into believing that you are unworthy of happiness UNLESS you play by its rules; and that its path is the only one that can lead to happiness.

But some will agree with me on the following point; If you are able to rebel against this perfect nightmare and not lose your sense of self-assured hidden confidence in your own individuality, then you will realize the futility of it all.

The ‘hidden’ quality of this confidence is so important, not because you obsessively try to hide it but because the desire to ‘show’ this sort of confidence is simply irrelevant and besides the point.

At this stage, you will begin to sit in the theatre seat and observe the endless chattering and bickering that people on stage go to great lengths for, just to prove to everyone else that since they are at the top of this visually beautiful and shiny world of trends and short-lived constructions, they are happy. Of course with something as important as happiness, only the one experiencing it knows whether it is genuinely felt or forced.

P.S. Here’s an invitation from an ugly rebel to a potential another

There is a quiet rebellion taking place
away from prying digital eyes
Inside the heartstrings
of those that seek something else
There is a silent war
not with another, neither with weapons
With no loud proclamations of victory
because the battleground is inside
There is a soundless struggle 
between a man and a mountain
In a land with no spectators
and yet, the man conquers the mountain
There is a tranquil takeover
from being led, to leading
A still encounter
where one comes face to face
with an old ugly friend 
and realizes, 
one had been happy all along! 

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