Last week, I was watching this and noticing how “cool” Taylor Swift is naturally. She was either born “cool” or become “cool” through repetition, training, and practice.
I have had a deep wounding when growing up from never been cool enough. I was cruelly rejected several times by fellow classmates growing up for being “weird”. “Coolness” didn’t strike me as a thing until I entered primary school.
In primary one, I remember how the most popular girl in my class told everybody not to “friend” me because I was weird. She provided no examples, but I remember the many recesses I spent alone, and the sense of rejection, inadequacy and sadness that surrounded me all the time. Many years later in primary six, I asked her why she did that to me. She shrugged her shoulders and explained I was just weird (as if the years of suffering could be justified by that).
At some point, I even played with her at her house. I remember wanting the same hair pin and pencil she had, and my dad had to ask her mom where to buy them for me. I wasn’t cooler or better liked for that at all. That was an early lesson for me of not needing/ wanting the same things others did. They didn’t make it happier. As a result, I never sought after brands/ branded things. I don’t long for expensive clothes, bags, shoes. I’ve always thought I have better things to do with my time and money – and usually that involved thinking how to learn more and help more people.
In primary three, I noticed how there were a few girls in class who didn’t seem to belong. I needed friends to hang out with during recess. We called ourselves the “reject group”. We had a membership list of a proud six, and we swore to not “friend”/ hate others who aren’t in our club. However, the negativity and toxicity of the group affected me. I eventually rejected the reject group. I was alone, and lonely a lot but it was fine compared to the cruelty I’ve witnessed. I’ve always drifted in and out of cliques, and never felt I belonged in any.
In the last year of secondary school, for some reason, I was accepted and joined the cool clique at the cool bench during recess. We didn’t have many things to talk about – usually boys, music, clothes. I noticed they hung out with me as long as I had pocket money – which always happened to be more than they did. I got tired of “trying” to belong than actually feeling accepted, and was glad to be rid of that group when I entered Polytechnic.
Because I spent so much alone, and often lonely, I didn’t realise this sense of individuality and independence would be celebrated when I entered Polytechnic. Suddenly “belonging” didn’t matter as “being” yourself – I felt a freedom and liberty I never felt through my primary and secondary years.
When I am asked what people/ parents/ friends think of me being a sexologist, I cringe because I’ve had to live for so long not having to care what people think, and also needing to care less what people think (because they usually won’t very nice people in the first place), and following my internal compass anyway.
People think I’m cool as a sexologist. They couldn’t be more wrong. I may have a cool occupation – a very meaningful one where I get to support/ help people, but I didn’t grow up cool. I didn’t grow up wanting to be cool.
Instead I grew up:
- Determined never to judge somebody by how they look
- Focused on seeing the inner beauty of each person I met
- Wanting to help all people who have suffered because I have suffered
- Less focused on things, than on people
- Choosing my friends carefully, holding them close to my heart, and only wanting what is “real” with my friends
I help people because that’s where my heart lies. All cool and self-identified non-cool people welcomed.
About Dr. Martha Tara Lee
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in May 2018. In practice for more than nine years, she is the only certified sexuality educator and certified sexuality educator supervisor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network. She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, Orgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.