Thursday, July 12, 2012


Day 247: Saturday, November 12, 2011

I woke up and lied in bed for a while thinking. I didn’t realize it until after I got home last night from the ceremony and party- the reason why I felt so strange on stage when I was getting questioned by the judges was because they didn’t ask me any questions about my photography or my work at all. I was ready and prepared for anything they could have thrown at me, but the whole time they just attacked my title as well as nit-picked things I said in my speech (which I did in Japanese). Even so, according to almost everyone there, my presentation as well as project were the best. It was clear to me that the judges were just looking for an excuse since it wasn’t about my work at all- it was personal.

I went downstairs. My father was in the living room watching TV. While I had my toast in the kitchen, my mom and I talked. She said it was obvious that one judge didn’t like me at all to begin with because he gave me the sourest face the whole time he was grilling me about my title, which confirmed my suspicion as well. She told me that even before the event began, my dad confided in her that I wouldn’t win… not because my work was bad, but because this competition was not set-up for a foreigner to actually to win. Whether it was really about where I was from or what I represented or if it was just personal disdain, as soon as I sat back down after my strange Q+A session, even though originally I didn’t want to believe it, I felt the same way: at least three of the judges decided beforehand that they didn’t want me to win and no matter how good my work was or what I had said, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Back in the kitchen, as I shrugged the stupidity of it all off, my mom told me what my dad had said to her earlier while I was still asleep this morning, which was that for the first time he finally understood me and that he was proud. For my entire life, I’ve been waiting to hear that, but to my surprise at that moment it was not quite as satisfying as I imagined… I guess when you finally get to the point where you are truly doing things for yourself rather than to impress others, you realize that their opinions, including your old heroes whom one day might end up judging you in some rigged event like last night, don’t really matter… but still- my harshest critic who I always wanted to impress- I’m glad I finally won him over. Like him, I’m also too shy to say to his face:

Thanks, Dad.

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