Forget the numbers, seriously. What numbers, do you ask? All kinds of numbers! Have you ever thought about how fixated our society is on numbers? It’s just crazy if you contemplate on that idea for a second. Every human being that I know of—including myself—is measured and judged by these numerical figures that somehow became the embodiment of our very own identities.
We are “graded” and categorized into different groups, measured by numbers, in almost all aspects of our lives: our body sizes, our grades, our wealth, our friends, etc.
1. How much do you weigh?
As a girl, I’ve been asked this question so many times by my friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even my followers on social media or magazines! I’m sure all women (and perhaps men too) have at least once in their lives, stepped on top of a scale in the morning and were stressed out by the number shown on this cruel machine. I am currently 5’3″ and 108 pounds, which means that I am completely healthy and normal weight; but even then, there are times when I wonder whether I am considered “fat” when I see women in the media being praised for their excessively petite figures or when I go into some clothing stores and find myself being unable to fit into size 00 jeans.
And it’s not just our weight that are victimized by this ruthless system of numbers. Now, we have to be a certain height, have a certain bra size, have a certain distance between our thighs (so ridiculous), etc., to be considered “ideally beautiful.” I find it extremely sad how not only the media continue to spread these standards as the “norm”, but also how easily we all accept these messages as the “truth” and infect our minds and bodies with self-hatred.
I remember—being completely honest—how I walked inside Victoria’s Secret and found myself walking timidly around the A and B-cup bra size section while a woman with long, blond hair with her Jimmy Choo handbag was proudly striding along the C and D-cup shelves. That day, I walked out of the store feeling ashamed—not because I had a flatter chest than that other woman whom I saw but because I realized that I was not proud of my very own body that God has gifted me with.
And I know that it’s not just us women who struggle with numbers when it comes to measuring our bodies. I remember talking to one of my guy friends in high school and how he gets self-conscious whenever he goes to the gym and notices that among his friends, he puts on the least amount of weights when doing bench presses; he also has the smallest bicep circumference (I didn’t know guys actually measure their biceps with measuring tapes). But listening to his story helped me to realize just how much we let numbers govern our self-confidence and self-worth.
We were all created to be much more than the mere numbers on our scales or the sizes of our clothes. So FORGET THE NUMBERS.
2. What’s your GPA?
Another question that I’ve been asked countless times throughout my life. I was asked this kind of question regarding my grade ever since kindergarten, when I first took a spelling quiz in school. What did you get? Did you pass a 90? How many questions did you get wrong?
I still can’t forget when my cousin, who came from Korea, told me that back in Korea, her teachers made the class seat by grades with the top students of the class filling the front rows and the rest of the class the back rows.
Ever since adolescence, we’re taught to categorize our fellow classmates by numbers and sometimes, parents even forbid their children from befriending other children who are not as “smart” as their own. I still remember in college, in one of my classes where the professor told us that we’re able to choose our own group members for the final project, a girl sitting next to me turned to me and said, “Let’s quickly gather people before Jeff asks to join our group.” Jeff was notorious in the class for always receiving the lowest grades on exams and pausing every few seconds while giving presentations to think. I was able to see that everyone was low-key avoiding making eye contact with Jeff, anxious that he might ask to join their group. I felt bad but I did not have the courage to go and ask him if he wanted to come into our group, fearing that I’d be kicked out of the group if I did so.
I honestly think that if grades were removed from the equation, then Jeff could’ve actually been a good person to be friends with. One time, I bumped into him in the library; we somehow ended up talking about classical music and I realized that he is very knowledgeable in the subject—he was forced to major in biochemistry by his parents but his true passion lies in music.
Every time we judge people by the numbers on their transcripts, we lose the chance to build a friendship that could possibly last a lifetime. So FORGET THE NUMBERS.
3. How much money do you have in your bank account?
Once we’re out of school and are not asked the question “What’s your grade?”, the next question that awaits us is “How much money do you make?”,“How much did you save up?”, etc.
My friend’s sister, when I told her that I’d introduce her to a guy, asked me, “How much does he make in a year?” That was the first question she chose to ask me—not what his hobby is or what kind of person he is but how much he earns. To some degree, I understand where she’s coming from because she’s in her early 30s and needs to find a man to marry but at the same time, I was appalled at how straightforward she was: “When I was young, many things mattered but at my age, all that matters is whether he has a good job and a stable earning.” Sure, money brings financial stability to the marriage but does that equate to marital happiness? I’ve seen tons of couples who make over six-figure income together annually, and yet they fail to satisfy themselves in the marriage. What good is it to lay your hands on monetary treasures if you cannot discover the treasure that really matters—happiness?
For me, money does not provide me with genuine contentment—just convenience. I believe that there is a huge difference between contentment and convenience. I can be driving a Bugatti, living in a penthouse in the Upper East Side, dining at Michelin star restaurants every day of my life and still find things to be discontented about. No matter how full my bank account may be, it will not fill up my empty heart 100%—why? Because what satisfies me, as a human being, are relationships with other people—family, friends, boyfriend, etc. I realized that regardless of how much money I have in my bank account, I am happy when my relationships with people are good and unhappy when they’re not. This is simply because as human beings, we were just created that way—to crave and desire having relationships with other humans.
I am just glad that I learned early in my life that what I really need around me are people not things. People can love you back but money can’t. So just FORGET THE NUMBERS.
4. How many friends do you have on FB/followers on Instagram?
In the digital era that we live in today, almost everyone owns a social media account (or accounts). I started social media pretty late compared to my friends. I’ve never had a MySpace account even when all my friends had one in middle school and I’ve only started using Facebook after I got into high school because whenever I’d meet a new classmate, he/she would ask me, “Can I add you on Facebook?” assuming that I would certainly have one.
I remember when I first opened my account, random people that I’ve never met IRL started sending me friend requests. One of my classmates, I was shocked to find out, had over 1,000 friends on Facebook. I asked him if he knew all of them and he said, “Nope. But that’s Facebook. No one really knows anyone on their “Friends” list.” What? I still recall the proud look he had on his face when I asked him that question with a curious countenance. I think he thought that I was admiring his “popularity” when in actuality, I was thinking, “That’s absurd.”
We often attach our values to the number of friends we have on Facebook or the numbers of likes that we get on our photos, posts, etc. And I am not going to lie by saying that I am not one of them—I mean, who doesn’t like getting attention, right? But what I believe to be more significant than the people who like your posts are the people around you because in the end, having people who genuinely care about you in your times of difficulty feels better than having hundreds and even thousands of followers who only care when they’re notified of your recent post.
One genuine friend matters more than thousands of online “friends”. So just FORGET THE NUMBERS.
In the long run, numbers do not really matter. We are so much more than the numbers on the scales, the grades on our transcripts, the figures on our paychecks, and the likes on our social media posts. So just FORGET THE NUMBERS.
When were some of the times when you felt that you wanted to be free from numbers? Share your comments and your thoughts ^__^