Embarrassment

Nothing plants a memory more firmly in your head than a little embarrassment. Who doesn’t like a little shame or public humiliation in their life?

It was my junior year of college and things weren’t going well. I still hadn’t learned the trick on how to force yourself to go to class. There was something almost exciting about standing up and walking out of class early and having no one try to stop you. I loved it a little too much and think I began leaving class just to see if people noticed.

I grabbed my red Ralph Lauren jacket, my notebook, wallet and keys, and headed out my apartment door. I quickly jumped down the two steps leading to the parking lot where my baby, a green two door Honda Civic, was waiting. My car peeled out as I headed towards UT campus with Kanye’s High School Drop Out blaring in the wind. Knoxville flashed by me as I sped towards the part of campus where my history class was being held.

Finding parking was impossible back in 2003 and it took awhile to find somewhere my baby could wait while I went to give my oral report on Roman civilizations. I was ready and had been up all night preparing. Actually that was a lie, I was up all night… but I recall not much time was used for preparing and more time was spent doing other things.

I grew nervous thinking about giving that report in front of actual people. It also occurred to me that I had only been to class a few times and most of them would probably be wondering who the hell I was.

I did what you do anytime you grow nervous in college, even if it is 10 am before class…

I pulled out my trusty double barrel flask and emptied both reserves into my mouth. Instantly I started to feel really good about the speech and headed towards my class with my notes.

 

UTK is a large campus and my car was really far from the class. By the time I got to the classroom the whisky had worn off totally and I was starting to panic a little. I have a huge phobia of speaking in front of large people and having those people judge me. It is particularly more difficult when those people are supposed to be judging you, like for a grade for class, and you are now positive you don’t remember actually forming out a plan for what you will say on the… which Empire again?

As my foot crossed through the door into a packed classroom, holy shit how many people are in this class and where do I sit, I was positive this was about to be one of the worst experiences in my life. I knew a ton about the Roman Empire, but without a plan I was a sailboat with no wind.

You know how sometimes it feels like the world knows when you are down and still she decides to plant just one more foot into your rear for good measure?

“Jason Cushman you are first to present today… is Jason Cushman here?” a voice seemed to boom from nowhere.

Fuck me… I thought as I headed before all the waiting eyes that I was sure were wondering who I was.

Jason Cushman… who is this guy looks darted towards me as I made my way down the suddenly ridiculously long aisle to the front podium. I set my notes down and cleared my throat as I looked over the many faces in front of me.

“The Roman Empire was a great empire that had an intricate road system…” I began nervously.

I stopped.

I couldn’t think of anything else to say…

I had forgotten English.

The eyes in front of me turned from intrigued, to puzzled… to half amused and half baffled.

“… Thank You.” I suddenly said and then quickly walked back down the aisle to my seat and sat down. I pretended like everyone didn’t exist and what I had just done was perfectly normal even though I felt every eye in the room on me thinking what the fuck just happened?

I starred at my desk for a total of 56 and a half minutes until the class was over. I didn’t look at anyone once and waited for everyone to leave first. I was mortified, but I also was suddenly panicked about the sure F I had just received for a grade on my presentation.

I made my way to the front of the class to talk to the professor and I decided I deserved one time in life where I get to pretend to be totally foreign. I mean… I am adopted, I was technically born in Korea.

I lied and told him my English wasn’t very good and asked him if I could write a paper instead of giving an oral presentation. I’ll admit I may have acted a little and exaggerated my speech.

Long story short – he let me write a paper and I got an A. I suffered through some major embarrassment, but in the end lying helped me succeed.

And that’s the moral of this story today.

Jason C. Cushman

-Opinionated Man

@smokendust

44.1

Adopting Yourself – By: Jason C. Cushman

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The ironic part about being an adoptee is that the first and final steps of our lives are the same. Just as we must accept being adopted in the first place, we must also accept ourselves for who we are in the end. That acceptance, that journey, can take a lifetime to occur and not all adoptees ever fully accept who they are. Those people caught between the want of “what ifs” and the “hard place of reality” never fully live life as they should because they are stuck living half their life with regret. I have known that place myself and can recount times in my childhood when I wished for anything but what was real. I wished to be someone else.

Adopting yourself is a lot easier when you know where you came from. You have a starting point and regardless whether that position in life is a good one or not you still have something to build off of. Life is hard enough without feeling like you must add additions to a question mark. That is what it feels like for many of us that are missing years of our past as we are forced daily to build upon that emptiness that we often feel. The old saying goes to not build your house upon the sand and mentally I can relate to this analogy. When you pile memories upon clouds of hope sometimes those clouds explode and your hope comes tumbling down. That shouldn’t stop you from hoping, but as humans we learn to become wary of things that can potentially cause pain. Hope is a good thing, but it can also become the bearer of the worst pain imaginable.

Many adoptees encounter struggles with depression as they struggle with images of themselves. When you walk for too long in the land of depression you become numb to feeling and your daily life flashes like a fading memory. Only strong and personal moments are fully captured and those glimpses into our lives are often garbled by the mental struggle that we are enduring. Sometimes the memories are pictures without sound and other times they are words or phrases that stand out in the night. I have held depression’s hand many times and my head is full of glimpses of our encounters.

I remember one day when I was fully under depression’s influence and I was taking klonopin daily to fight the shadows of doubt over whether or not I wished to live. I was standing in the kitchen of my parent’s home staring out the window while it rained. I watched as before my eyes the rain suddenly stopped falling and hung midair as if nature had rebelled against its natural course. My father walked up behind me and saw me looking out the window.

What are you looking at son?” he said with concern in his voice.

I hadn’t realized that I had begun to cry. I looked at him and said in a near whisper, “the rain has just stopped midair Pop. It won’t fall to the ground. It is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.” A week later I tried to kill myself.

It is easy to consider things in retrospect and to wish you had done things differently. I have many regrets in my life, but some of the hardest actions to accept from my past have been in relationship to my adoption. Actions I did or did not take when the opportunity presented itself, those are the memories that are on constant replay in my mind. It is a hard thing to live life by tracing the lines of regret from our past, but often in our depression we do this. We do this because the saddest times often outshine the happiest from our lives. It is far easier to focus on what we don’t have than what we do. That is very human.

When I was two years old my mother left me on a street in front of a police station. In the Korean culture this was translated into the mother no longer wanting the child. I was not alone though, I later found out she left me a hand to hold onto. A five year old sister I have since searched for was also left on that street to hold my hand and wait for a mother that would never return for us. She must have had half a heart though because she did come back for my older sister later on… but left me behind. Sometimes in the night I imagine I can still feel her hand. I often wonder if she remembers me.

I was adopted and sent by plane to a black and white world. At 3 years old it did not take long for me to realize I was in a world I did not fully belong. Growing up as an Asian American in the deep south of the Unites States is a challenge for anyone. That challenge is increased astronomically when you are unsure of who you are and what you are supposed to be. The only thing I remember being sure of was that I was different. My eyes were small, I was small as well, and my family wasn’t created from the cookie cutter mold of southern society. We were multi-cultural and at the time that was still visually a strange thing to see in everyday life. I found it hard to accept myself in a society that obviously did not accept me.

I found for most of my life I was forced to continuously adopt the image that I was. Growing up in a black and white world with almost no Asian friends was tough. I had no point of reference for what an Asian should look like, act like, or even just “be.” I can recall many days where I would return home from grade school and I would slam my door shut on society as a whole. A society that chased me in my dreams, a society that made me ashamed of my skin color. I would look to the sky and pray to any god that would listen to please make me a different race. Black… white… it didn’t matter at that point. What mattered was being accepted and I simply knew that I would never be accepted clothed in the skin I wore at the time. I remember praying for this many times through tears of confusion because I still could not comprehend why I was so different. I simply knew I was and I hated it.

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Jason C. Cushman

-Opinionated Man

@smokendust

44.1

Blogging – Battling Doubt

I spent a week away from my blog… well technically that is a lie. I am never “away” from my website, but I did force myself not to post. I spent a ton of time reading blogs and blogger thoughts. Of course after a week of doing that I have a few things to say to anyone that wishes to listen.

I get so tired of reading post after post of negativity about blogging. It isn’t the median either that is being attacked, it is the idea of success. Now I am no salesman and this is not a pitch to get you to buy my ebook if one existed (by the way buy my ebook). I honestly get annoyed as shit when I read bloggers writing about how “there are so many blogs out there that it is impossible to be noticed.” It is indeed impossible to be noticed with such a crappy attitude. The same people probably “expect” every follower of theirs to read every post they publish. It doesn’t work that way people and I repeat this often.

I view my website as a success because I have met my goals for it. MY GOALS, that is the key phrase here because I do not enslave myself to other people’s visions of success. For every person that spreads doubt and tries to tell you that your blog will never be successful ask yourself this, what has that person ever done in their life? Are they Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg? If not tell those people to shut the fuck up! Literally look them in the eye and say “you don’t have a damn clue what you are talking about. Shut the fuck up!”

I am not the most knowledgeable blogger by far, but I own what I know. I believe in what I do or I wouldn’t be wasting my damn time. Do any of you have any clue how many people have told me my blog is a waste of time? That the views and subscriber number mean jack shit. Even when I hit my goal of a million views through hard ass work I was told “so what? What have you achieved?” You see there are three types of people in this world to me. The “doubters” that feel their purpose in life is to shatter dreams of others. Then you have the “dreamers” that dream up amazing shit that never actually happens because of one reason or another. Lastly you have the “doers” and guess what we doers do? We fucking do.

What type of person will you be?

-Opinionated Man