Yes, I Am High-Maintenance and I Deserve To Be

Here’s how I turned an intended insult into a huge compliment.

For those that know me well, then you would already know the fact presented to you in the headline. And for those of you who don’t, let me catch you up to speed in the quickest way possible… I am precious: I physically cannot stay at hostels (3.5 stars are my absolute minimum for accommodation); if you don’t reply to my message within five minutes, I’ll be the first to complain about it, and will effortlessly flood your phone or inbox with messages until you do; unless it is cosplay or pop culture accessories (love my Harley Quinn Puddin’ choker), I refuse to wear jewellery that isn’t from Tiffany & Co.; and sometimes I call my father at work just to see what he’s doing.

I am high-maintenance af, and others have picked up on it. Some may intend it in a nice “but we love you anyway” kind of thing, but some people mean it as a form of insult, as in I need to change the way I am to suit them. I admit, being high-maintenance or needy isn’t necessarily a great quality to have, but I am proud of every intricacy of my personality, whether that is being bashful, loud, blunt, or high-maintenance.

As I sat down and thought to myself why others view me that way, I realised that when people call me high-maintenance, it is actually a huge compliment to my parents and their efforts in raising me to the best of their ability.

Thanks to two individuals, these siblings have lived a great life, including the addition of two sister-in-laws.

Contrary to what some may believe, when I was first born, my family didn’t have a lot. We usually wore hand-me-downs (FACT: I still have a jumper that my sister wore when she was in high-school so-and-so years ago), and we lived in a small three-bedroom house with seven humans and one canine, but I never saw the financial struggle that my parents must’ve faced, because to me, I had it all. I had somewhat loving brothers and sisters who each year grow closer and closer together; I had food on the table every morning, arvo, and evening, with plenty to spare for tomorrow’s leftovers; and we had a load of board games and a couple of gaming consoles that kept us kids entertained for days.

My father is Samoan, so we practice a tradition called “fa’a Samoa” (which you can learn more about at this link), which is loosely translated to “The Samoan Way”. I might not be completely familiar with the practice, but what I do know is that in this Samoan tradition, you give everything you have to family and friends, even the shirt off your back if you have to – especially in important times like funerals and weddings. While we weren’t rolling around in our riches, my parents often gave everything they had and much more to different family and friends, whom we often had over for dinner several days a week, to the point where I was accustomed to having up to 20 people at my dinner table on a weekly basis.

My father and mother raised me well, and gave me everything that I needed and most often, what I wanted. That is why, several years later as a 24-year-old, I can safely say that I deserve to be high-maintenance, because my needs were always met as a child, and my desires were given to me should I be deserving of them. My parents afforded me the luxuries of staying in nice hotels and enjoying the finer things in life.

So the next time someone tries to take a shot at me by calling me “needy” or “high-maintenance”, I am going to turn around and thank them for acknowledging the stellar job my parents did with me in raising me to be the man that I am today. And I am not ashamed of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go straighten my seven-coloured-hair, because I can’t go out in public unless my hair is straightened and styled to the left.

– by Noah La’ulu

I am not Plastic Fob-tastic

If I had to choose one term that I hate with a fiery passion to abolish, it would be “plastic fob”. Never heard of it? Let me explain.

100% genuine. 0% plastic.

100% genuine. 0% plastic.

To those of you who don’t know me, my cultural background is Maori, Samoan and a dash of Irish in there somewhere. I was born in Australia so I identify myself as being Australian but will never hide my cultural background. I am proud of my pacific roots and embrace my culture – maybe not to its full extent, but I still love and acknowledge where my ancestors have come from.

As I have had a “traditional” Australian upbringing in the beautiful country town of Bathurst, I’m not as cultured as someone who was born and raised in the islands; I don’t know all of the cultural norms and I don’t speak neither fluent Maori or Samoan (not for lack of trying, I have pestered my parents to teach me on numerous occasions). In fact, I speak better Portuguese than I do either of those languages.

Does that make me any less Samoan or Maori than another child of the pacific? No, it doesn’t. As people who are normally stereotyped as easy-going and friendly, why are some Polynesians so bitter towards each other?

This is where “plastic fob” comes in. A plastic fob is, basically, someone who has a cultural background from the Pacific Islands yet doesn’t act or behave like a “normal” Polynesian would. That is what pisses me off. I get this term branded on me by so many of my own people who don’t even take the time to actually get to know me. My best friend, who had a similar upbringing as me and who is half Samoan and half Italian, has the same issue as me; we went through a lot of the exclusions just because we were “plastic”. I know some of my siblings have to deal with this kind of, dare I say, bullshit, as well.

Let me put this on the record: I am not plastic. I am not pretending to be anyone but me. I am who I am. Just because I am not musically gifted in singing or playing acoustic guitar does not make me any less Polynesian than it does the guys from Nesian Mystik. Just because I am not working in some form of security does not make me any less Polynesian than my big brave cousin who does. I haven’t been to neither of the homelands (New Zealand or Samoa just FYI), but you try and put me on a plane and you will see how difficult of a task that is (see attached).

I get judged a lot just because I am a lot different to the “stereotypical” Polynesian man and have been called a “plastic fob” many times in my life and sometimes worse. It’s ridiculous.

Please, my fellow Polynesians, whether you be Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Niuean or Maori, we need to learn to stick together and not judge one another just because we’ve had a different childhood. One of the things I most enjoy about our culture is how I can bump into someone whom I’ve never met before and still say hello or give a polite nod just because we have that same cultural similarity. We are some of the most beautiful people on the planet so let’s not change that and let’s please abolish the term “plastic fob.” It tells a better story about the insulter than the insultee.

My name is Noah. I am Maori. I am Samoan. I am Irish. I am a journalist. I am a rugby league enthusiast. I am video gamer. I am a horror movie lover. I am a country head. I am a pole dancing student. I am my own person. I am not plastic.

– by Noah La’ulu