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Home | Episode #43
Beyond the Aesthetic
May 3, 2019 | Student Producers:

Daryan Gomez and Lily Yates
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Beyond the Aesthetic
Born in the Philippines, Director of Student Support Services Ryan Jumamil feels the pressure to create an inauthentic image. (7 minutes)
Ryan Jumamil

You know, in a world of instant gratification and social media, creating that perfect aesthetic on Instagram and making sure that everything looks to par and using the word #lovinglife or #livingthegoodlife, I became a victim of portraying a lifestyle that is not my lived experience. If you look through my social media accounts, you'll see places that I've traveled, things that I've accomplished, and materials that I've really collected all throughout the years. My social media is no different from yours and it's no different from your family, your friends, your significant other, or acquaintances. It really shows a lifestyle that is full of light, happiness, and accomplishments, but underneath it all beyond the photo filters and Hashtag that people really use is a person that is struggling. We all have our struggle to really find happiness and what does that even really mean? 

Right? Is that even really achievable? To give you a little bit perspective of why I decided to call this Beyond Aesthetic, I'll share a little bit about my upbringing. So I was born in the Philippines, a first generation immigrant to this country before my dad left actually, when I was, before one, and my mom left when I was five. So I grew up independent. I had to really find my own voice, find that comfort and that feeling of parental guidance. And I had three older sisters who raised me to be the person that I am today and it was really, I felt really alone. When you grow up with not having, essentially, your mom and dad and you know you have a mom and dad, but not physically there, it was, it was really rough. I remember getting bullied in elementary school, being told by my friends that my parents did not want me and that they were never gonna come back for me. 

And that was a lot of things that I internalized and my, my mom actually before she left the Philippines, put me in first grade when I was three years old and it's intense. I was held back because I was too young to comprehend what was really happening and the content that I was learning. And so I was pulled out from one school and added into another just to catch up. And so a lot of those internal battles of academia, of, you know, needing guidance has been something that have really traumatized me. And so when I moved to the United States, I was automatically put in an ESL course. And many of you know what ESL is, right? So English as a second language. And I remember I did not even speak for a whole year. I was just so afraid. I was so afraid of people knowing that I was not from this country, and my parents, when I came here, started to use this scare tactic and actually tell me that if I was not going to do well in school or not follow their directions or kind of wishes that I would be sent back to the Philippines. 

As I shared, you know, being alone and being by myself and having to kind of raise my, myself was so scary to be back in that place again. And in the Philippines we were really poor. We lived in like a shack. We didn't have running water. Our house was actually, like on a stilt. So we didn't really have any foundations at all. So I didn't want to go back to that place because it was, you know, scary. And then now kind of being in, in the US. So I always keep my parents' words in my mind of succeeding, right? Succeeding and making sure that I'm accomplishing something, even though many times I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish. And so when I got this prompt, roasted, I really thought about, well, why do I keep roasting myself? Or why do I keep on going back to that mentality of vulnerability, that mentality of being afraid, that mentality of hurt and then I realize that it's a work that I needed to do. 

I like, really ran away from it. When I moved here, I created a persona, like a totally different one. I mean, that's why the aesthetic comes out of it. So I practiced every single day to lose my Filipino accent. That was so scary for me. I made sure that I would actually like, read a book until I fall asleep to make sure that I was not going to be held back in school. And I actually learned English by watching Barney because that was something that I could really understand and it was slow. And you know, there's, there's a lot of things that kind of went beyond, like losing my identity. And so the aesthetic that I have right now and the aesthetic that I present to people is not my, my lived experience. This is one that is just comfortable for me and one that I know is accepted by my peers, by what I think society, um, is expected for me to look. 

So to kind of end things, the trauma that I have kind of gone through and my upbringing and the roasting of myself, um, have really led me to depression, PTSD, anxiety. And none of those words meant anything for my family because for them, mental health is weakness. And so I, to this day, have actually never talked to my parents or my family about the mental health things that I go through, and for now I am okay with that, um, but will not be in the future. So, you know, the aesthetic images that I post on social media, backtracking to that idea, uh, does not really portray the consistent internal battles that I'm facing. As uh, the title of today's event, like Roasted, I am quietly roasting myself and living in my, living in an area of my demons. And I shared this with you to really encourage you all to think beyond the aesthetic representation of a person. 

Just know that they are struggling and that we all have battles that we're currently facing. It's really time for us to be human again and be honest with our emotions and live a more genuine, truthful, and authentic life. We really need to begin to share our struggles and not just the successes that we feel so comfortable in consistently sharing. I'm a firm believer that failures and struggles actually make a better story than those that are success stories. So I hope that you get the chance to maybe look at social media today, post something, and take ownership of your struggle because it might reach one person and it will change their lives. So thank you so much.