Stars and Hearts

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

When I was a little girl, I was partial to doodling stars and hearts across any piece of paper or surface I could get. Doodling, in some way, is a cross between writing and drawing; with my handwriting being terrible and no talent whatsoever in the drawing department, I was doing a shoddy job at leaving a trace of handmade hearts and stars across scraps of papers, diaries, books, and walls even. 

I don't remember being schooled for this, but what I do vividly remember is my mother gamefying this into a parenting lesson. In hindsight, all core memories (thank you for nothing Pixar/Disney) are shaped through this gamification of parenting approach—where my mom ascribed coolness or uncoolness to a 'thing' and I believed that to be the holy grail. In this case, the gamification said the stars are cool and the hearts are uncool and how I should try to include the star in my name; in the "i", instead of the regular dot, add a damn star. This would also be indicative of how I'm a fucking star and at the same time, hearts are too tacky, ew ew ew. Somehow, hearts extend to explain romance and who wants romance when we prefer humour, right? 

Soon, the heart made a clean exit and I tried my best to perfect the star illustration. It was my go-to motif and design. If I wanted a pair of earrings, it had to be in the shape of "stars", if I wanted a t-shirt, I'd go for the stars (never mind my name actually meaning the light of the moon that gets rid of the darkness), basically, the star went everywhere I went. 

To think that our parents were doing ham by telling impressionable minds things is to understate a situation here; that the heart motif, somehow, became a sign of weakness. If I saw one on any garment or stationery or gift item of any sort, I'd scowl. This continued all the way into my teens and 20s. Hearts in songs or illustrations or anything instantly became tacky. It was also indicated in a way how my first tattoo at 18-19 came about— a star nursing a bass clef— and not a heart housing a bass clef, even though the latter would make more sense. 

Years later, the heart made an impression in my life. As a pattern on my ankle socks, on the back of a phone cover (even though I consistently fought the urge to call myself tacky), as a part of my signature (that I use across all my bank documents, thank you very much) and even when it came to picking garments. 

I don't know how it happened and I don't know when I stopped believing in the gamification of cool vs uncool but the heart became cool one day and I went with its public and private consumption. 

I won't lie when I say that sending heart emojis, to this day, makes me hella uncomfortable but I suppose when you "like" things and Instagram drops a heart, as a sign of acknowledgment, a marker to indicate that you've heard them and have nothing else to contribute to their fine point, dropping a heart seems more kind than needy. That, in being needy and heart emoji or illustration, no longer stood as mutually exclusive. It isn't cringe when I send a random person a purple or yellow or orange "heart" because it is perfectly acceptable to this cheesy and the heart doesn't have to mean you're opening your legs for them or proclaiming your love with them. 

Over the years, all these markers have lost their original ascribed value. A handshake is more of a firm reminder that I want to go down on someone than it is of agreement (who am I kidding, a handshake could mean both), a silent eye emoji could mean I'm looking at you for being just as depraved as me at the moment, but the humble heart? It just lost its damn value when it became ordinary, every day "like" for "like" and shut the chat. In the past year, even when the guy I was hopelessly in love with sent me a heart, it felt clinical. I was back where I was with my relationship with both heart and stars— in my head as an everyday iconography that I enjoyed drawing (in this case using as emojis) and sharing with everyone. 

Does it mean I took a chance on hearts and it paid off? Maybe.

All I needed was that one chance or buying one personal use item with the heart on it while leaning on it and seeing the heart truly isn't cringe now and maybe this isn't all about finding things awkward or not. Sometimes, it's about new learning lessons and keeping the old ones at bay—make the same mistake twice, invest in drawing hearts, and maybe find that the second chance and the repeated outcome yield different results and that you had nothing to worry about. Sometimes, taking a chance on something or someone is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for others and you'll realize that there is a lot more you have to learn and accept than just knowing "heart is cringe" at face value cause someone trustworthy told you so during your formative years. Hearts can be cool and cringe all at once, just like stars can be ugly and pretty altogether. The tattoo on my ankle is a gentle but pertinent reminder to me daily that people in your life can be wrong and that holding yourself tightly and being shriveled can do you no good sometimes. All it takes is a wild leap into that impulsive act or route of craziness and seeing how it can liberate you.

This post has nothing to do about stars and hearts. It has everything to do about you. 

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