How I Became A Citizen Of The World

"How I Became A Citizen Of The World", Jessica McLeod-Yu

"How I Became A Citizen Of The World", Jessica McLeod-Yu

Following my previous articled About how my choice of hair colour responds to my personality, I felt inspired to write another article about a different aspect of myself: How I became a Citizen of the World.

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia with English as my first language.  I have a very multicultural gene pool. My father is from China, and on my mother’s side, her father comes from an Australian, Scottish, Irish background, and her mother comes from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.  We don’t know the much of our family tree on that side. However, Trinidad has a diverse immigration history with mixes from the native people, African slaves, and the Spanish, French and British colonialists. It’s hard to really say what mix I’m made of.  Playfully, I call myself a ‘Whatever’.

When I was younger, I found it hard to fit.  I was proud of who I was and for being so unique, yet many Australians didn’t believe that I was Australian, nor could they believe that I was born here.  Australia has an incredible number of multicultural citizens, and immigrants. However, I don’t think the people were used to having a single person with so much genetic variety, and with that, I felt lost.  I was Australian, yet I didn’t fit in completely.

I remember in high school we had a small homework task to write a report on belonging.  Though it was an easy task in theory, I felt crippled.  I didn’t feel that I belonged, and I was ashamed to admit it.

When I was 14 years old, I started studying Japanese as my compulsory language class. I had always loved Anime and thought that learning the language would let me be able to watch anime without subtitles.  I loved my classes.  The Japanese language was hard to learn, yet it was so different and exotic.  Everything was completely new and so much fun to learn.  As the years went on, I became determined to visit Japan.

When I was 16, I went on my first 2-week overseas exchange trip.  It was a life changing experience for me, and the moment when I caught the incurable Travel Bug.  I can’t begin to describe the joy and wonder I felt learning about the culture of Japan, but most importantly, I found myself in the company of a group of international exchange students. For once, it was ok for me not to be categorized as a specific nationality.  Instead, we were all International and Citizens of The World.  It was outside of Australia that I felt… Australian.

From that trip, I met my first international friend. Eliza was from Canada and we kept in contact as email pen pals for the next few years, and in time, my international friendship circle would grew.

I had always had a longing that I belonged ‘somewhere else’.  I would follow the stars at night and feel home sick for a place that I’d never been.  I was determined to explore the world and find the place where I belonged. Since then, I went back and studied in Japan, France, Italy and Spain to name a few places, where I met so many wonderful people, who would become a part of my life.  It was like a became a different person when I was abroad.  My soul soars when I travel, and I feel a great power and sincerity to connect with others.  Just the idea of it makes me feel so elated to learn of new cultures and to make friends and speak to them in their own languages.

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I’ve come to understand that there is no one ‘place’ where I belong, nor one particular nation that calls to me.  Instead, my heart sings when I connect to all the places that I go.  It is within this international community that I feel comfortable and accepted to embrace and express the multiculturalism within me.  In fact, I consider all of these experiences to add to me and my identity, instead of just identifying with the genetic heritages that I was born with.  I feel that there is a level of importance and kinship that is born through my selection and assimilation from meeting people and experiencing their lives, and with that, I’ve become more.

I call myself an artist and I believe that the arts have a power to emote, question and connect with people beyond borders.  I have always had this desire to connect to the world.  I want to inspire and help people and leave the world better than when I arrived here on this planet.  This is a vocation and personality trait that I have within myself, yet I wasn’t sure what work opportunities exist that would allow me to pursue this path.

This coming year I will be going to the Australian National University in Canberra to study a Master in International Relations.  This will be a new experience for me, but I feel inspired.  My new dream is that I would like to use the skills and knowledge of my artmaking as a vehicle to communicate concepts, ideas and influence on a boarder international scale for the benefit of others.

How Does One’s Hair Affect Their Personality?

Jessica McLeod-Yu

"I am who I am", Photoshop, Jessica McLeod-Yu, 2019

I just wanna be myself
And I want you to love me for who I am
I just wanna be myself
And I want you to know, I am my hair

Lady Gaga

My name is Jessica. I am an artist, storyteller and animator.  I take inspiration from street art, nature, architecture and fairy tales.  My artistic aesthetic is bold, colourful and full of zeal and vitality. Its eye catching, engaging and fresh.  I am so incredibly passionate about expressing myself that it goes beyond the canvas and into my how I dress, and the way I choose to live.

Those who know me will recognise my Blue and Pink hair.  It’s part of my brand and how I choose to represent myself.  It’s such a playful and distinct way to represent myself and make myself memorable when meeting people.  It gives me a lot of joy to express outside, how I feel on the inside.

I’ve always been a tomboy and I’m fit and athletic.  When it comes to clothes, l prefer to wear clothes that are comfortable and sporty and choosing what I like from the Male and Female sections, as opposed to being limited in my gender.

From a young age I noticed that some people judge how one looks without really knowing nor understanding the person, especially towards gender stereotypes.  On occasions when I dressed up ‘fancy’ I noticed some boys would treat me better because I was pretty yet treat others who weren’t as dolled up badly, and on the other hand that some girls would get jealous towards me and treat me badly.  I always wanted to show my worth though my personality and that which I do.  Yet, I found this insincerity disturbing. How these people would behave differently towards me, and others, based on whether they thought we were attractive or not.  Therefore, I found that dressing in a more casual androgynous way allowed me to get to know people better, and to learn whether we liked each other or not based on our personalities and abilities, without the burdens of attraction or jealousy interfering.  Human beings are fascinating creatures.

I feel as though there are contradictions within society.  Now more than ever there are more options for online shopping, and greater varieties of clothing designs, and the opportunities to express one’s self through social media.  There is a greater push and trend to express one’s self, yet at same time I find that the opposite exists.  Stand out, fit in.  Look unique but follow the dress code.  There’s a fear to keep up impressions, to get more likes online.  Then, there’s the fear of being judged for standing out and being the nail that gets hammered down.

It’s such a confusing world for me, and I often find it hard to know where I fit in.

I think a lot of women feel pressure to wear makeup in their lives, and even feel ashamed to go out in public without it.  Or they feel pressured to dress up and be sexy and wear uncomfortable shoes.

I like dressing up everyone once in a while, and I like wearing costumes.  However, I don’t like that it’s an expectation for some people.  This is the face that I was born with.  Even if I was ugly, I feel as though I should be able to go out in public with the face that I have, because that’s the way I am.

I like being different, and like the choices that I’ve made for my personal appearance.  Yet, I still feel the pressure sometimes.  Sometimes I wonder if I get disqualified from job interviews for dressing in a non-conforming way.  I don’t know.  I get anxious when I think about it.  I can’t change myself.  I am who I am, and I can’t pretend to be ‘normal’ or like everyone else, because I am not.  So much of who I am is driven by the desire and will to change the constrains that exist within society that people assume to be ‘normal’.

I sometimes wonder, what would happen if I dyed my hair black again, or dressed differently?  I would still be the same person on the inside, wouldn’t I?

The truth is, I love being who I am, and having the courage to express myself though my own style and artistic creativity.  I think it’s a beautiful thing where one is able to be themselves and to be the change they want to see, and to inspire others by showing that it’s Ok for them to be them.  What I would truly appreciate the most in the world, is finding a place where I have the freedom to be me.

Writing this reminds me of Lady Gaga’s song: “Hair”, I think it’s a good example of how something so cosmetic as their hair can represent so much of who they are as a person.

TWB Book Opening

 Once upon a time, in a land of crystal towers blue, is a garden known only to those in desperate need. There, lonely souls beseech the help of the King of Wishes only to fall prey to his curse and dance for eternity within his ballroom of dreams. A fairy tale—that’s all it was . . . until now.

invitations

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Back in June my family and I held a book opening for the release of my novel The Wish Bringer.  It was a great night celebrating not only the success of the book being published, but also celebrating the people who helped and supported me throughout my writing journey.

The launch was held in the Marian Hall of Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, which we decorated with framed drawings of the story’s conceptual art, an installation, a selected music playlist, as well as other decorative elements including a banner of the book and decorated cake.

The main idea that I wanted to convey with these props was to invoke the senses.  Many of the people who attended that night had yet to read the book, therefor we wanted to transport everyone into the fantastical nature and environment of the book by appealing to their senses, which I think was quite successful.

 
Video of the speeches
 

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Photos taken by my friend Miguel Zaragoza

 

For anyone interested in getting a copy of the book, you can click here to buy it from the online book store here

book store