Baking matcha cakes with lavender sauce is not the same as learning how to cook with Campbell soup and frozen peas in your uniform. When we’re done we don’t instagram the plates. You can pout about your meringue cracking on the wrong side but if our canned tuna pasta sauce is lumpy we eat it all the same.
Throwing an emphatic lah or leh in your English and laughing about being ahlian is not the same as struggling to keep up in class because your parents only speak in dialect.
Finding a good bargain in your Thailand holiday is not the same as rummaging the sales bin for spectacle frames that look like the Ray Bans the cool kids wear.
Going on an immersive overseas trip for “personal growth” will not impart the same independence that working at a supermarket counter will. It will not give you the same strength of character as a 15-year-old who has had to bow their head to a raging customer.
Wearing your “ratchet” (Havaianas, no less) flip flops to the mall is not as embarrassing as the teacher pointing out in class that there are holes in your school shoes, and that the sole is separating from its base.
I have no doubts that you really think riding in the back of a cargo van is “liberating”/”interesting”, but some people do that every day to get to school, and they always smell like the musty upholstery.
You can go up the stairs in your semi-d at night and think about how you’re so down-to-earth, and so one with the people, and so neighbourhood. But at the same time a neighbourhood school kid will go to bed at night wondering how much harder they have to try.