A Year’s Learnings.

Last October, I set a new one-year goal. Periodically I evaluate my own life decisions and identify the areas of growth and knowledge I seek to live the life I believe in. This time last year I was lonely and tired, with my graduation certificate in my hands. I had silently went through 3 years, bit my lip through long painful days, without failing any modules. My situation back then gave me an opportunity to realise what I’ve neglected – my mental well-being, emotional responses as well as my relationships. The fact is they impact one another. With that, I told myself to be in touch with myself again and for one year, I will be patient. I will work on my distant relationships with myself, my family and my friends.

Becoming distant was not a choice I made. It was the consequence of the hunger and pursuit of professional progress and excellence. I took up a degree without financial support, taking a loan that I refuse to spend my life paying. I gave myself 1-3 years to pay my debt. I wasn’t willing to compromise on job experience so I took up challenging career roles that could, on hindsight, damage me if I was to slack on my dilligence, ethics, and reputation. I earned enough to pay my monthly bills. I learnt a lot, in marketing, in friendships, from other people and I modified some of my values and mentality. I realised the importance of having resillience – also that grit – to so desperately want to make things happen. That no matter what others say of you, it is not true until you agree. I am more convicted that only I, have the power to determine the person I am and want to be. We don’t know what we are able to do until we are left with that one choice.

There are people that gained clarity on life upon knowledge of chronic disease, illnesses or disability to themselves. I find it a blessing that I had embrace the knowledge or death and uncertainty of circumstances at a younger age. That allowed me to see what mattered to me. I want to make an impact, in people’s lives, no matter how small the gesture. I want to share my learnings, and the learnings others share with me, with more people. I believe my life purpose is to create. Among all other things I want to create, I started small, and finally created a blog – this blog.

Call it ignorance or complacence, I neglected my favorite hobbies as a kid. I used to paint and draw for hours and that is practically the only thing that could make me focus and remain wordless for hours. I thought it was a useless gift because in Singapore, that cannot earn you enough dough to feed myself, needless to say, a family in the future. Then I realised, there are so many parts of us that make us up. After 9 years, I took up a pencil and a brush again and started creating. I realised what I was missing, and what made me fall in love with it as a kid. It is a communication channel, a form of expression that is universal. While creating you speak to yourself, you ask yourself what colors to put in, how detail you want the strokes to be, how precise you want your artwork to replicate the real thing. I became effortlessly happy, appreciating some of the mundane surroundings which I’ve overlooked for years, found back my love for nature and I became present.

Becoming present was the most valuable lesson I relearned. It is not difficult yet easily forgotten in the fast paced economy. To me, being present is the root of appreciation. Being present is doing what you can at the moment to change whatever you didn’t like about your life. Being present is not procrastinating, being decisive when you can yet being yielding when it comes to situations we can’t change immediately. The fact is we cannot make things significantly better overnight, but being present means being honest with yourself – where you are at and where you ideally want to be.

I neglected my emotional well-being, working until 3am in the morning on some days and 10pm on the other days. On those days I end at 10pm, it is because my office building have a lights-off policy. I either went back to continue my work, or did my school work and projects. My weekends were spent in front of my Macbook, scooping whatever food that was placed in front of me, having conversations with my significant other and the TV playing in the background. I met my close friends once a year, and I forgot what it is like to shop in a mall. I was constantly stressed out, snapping at many whoevers and whatevers that hindered my work. I slept on sofas on most of the days, was on the phone with clients in the taxi, did my make-up in the car and my phone messages are left unanswered for days, until I decided it was time to rest. This one year, I took things slower, trained a little more patience, and had more time to listen. I realised how emotional well-being impacted my physical state – I was constantly sick. I also notice the changes in my loved ones attitude towards me – nonchalence. I refined my understanding towards my ideal mental and physical states and the importance of them.

Like I said, I neglected my relationships. I wasn’t there to listen when my family and friends needed me. I wasn’t there to solve any misunderstandings and unhappy feelings of my loved ones. I didn’t regret my decision to take that path, but I deeply regreted my failure to be present on special occasions, even though I never fail to remember and wish them. It hit me really hard one day in my 2nd year of school, when my closest friends didn’t wish me on my birthday, and the enthusiasm level visibly dropped each year for 3 years. I learnt. This one year, I dedicated myself to be present for every meet up. Initiating messages and meet-ups with them, reassuring that I’m not doing this because I got into a sales line. I focussed on regaining their trust. After this year of change, I feel much more fulfilled. That translated into a healthier mental and physical state. I’m still improving until this day. It is not as quick as I would like, but I believe thet will become ideal again, following with maintaining them with consistency and patience. Regardless of how difficult conversations might be, I will go through them. Through heated disucssions and sometimes tears, I learnt that although peole can be brought together by common interests and preferences, true friendships require much more. The people you can talk to and hit it off does not mean your friendships will be strong. True, strong friendships are made. They are made through effort, time and translating that into shared experience and memories. True friends are not perfect conversationalists or exceptional intellectual exchanges, but they are uniquely forged by two people who genuinely care about each other. They stand the strongest through time and adversity, and the individual differences make each member valuable. Besides friends, I was thankful to the unconditional love my parents have shown throughout despite co-inhabiting with an explosive robot, triggered by the sound of her own name. I will continue to strive for understanding from me, and to me, with my parents. They are my only pair and will always be.

It’s not a valuable lesson if there’s no change. It’s not a sustainable change without an attempt to make it a habit. It’s no longer a one-year goal. I will now continue to love – myself, my family and my friends – better, and with more strength and courage.

 

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Intoxicate.

After twenty odd years of my life,
I finally had one day,
I was so high,
I went to order Mcdonald’s,
Alone for supper.

What’s the big deal right?!

I haven’t ate Mcdonald’s in years.
(In fact, I don’t even remember when I last had it.)

Strangely, with the number of friends I have who love drinking, I never had a time which I drank until I was seriously was decently high and happy. I never did enjoy it fully, since I associate drinking with drama, boomer’s bile, immature boys, missing friends and remembering everything that everyone else forgotten. I have always been pretty hard on myself, telling myself to never get drunk, conduct myself well etc. I’m always super hard on myself, telling myself to never get drunk, conduct myself well etc.

I think I had an amazing breakthrough.

Image.

Through my entire life, I feel like an epitome of a confusing mix of preferences from opposite ends of the spectrum. In which I would plainly explain myself as a pragmatic being trapped in overtly crazy outer shell. I feel extremely energetic with people, or even making new friends and also feel incredibly comfortable with myself.

I would categorize this as an “on-the-fence” personality, whatever person or tests or quiz or analysis always puts me right in the middle of a chart. It was difficult back then when I was at the age of finding my identity.

The most amazing thing and also the strange thing is, I braved insults and judgements on my personality from people of all walks, and each time it made me even more determined to be me. And now, I’ve grown to be at ease with it. The kind of ease my younger would’ve never been able to imagine.

I also had all sorts of friends, neighborhood punks to ace scholars, or even neighborhood punks which turned to ace scholars. I became seemingly aware of what others say of who I was or what I’m like, not because I wanted to improve on my personality, but because I realized there was a major discrepancy with the perception of me and who I truly am. Every single judgement were so way-off. Then, it became a conscious decision to dedicate time to understand myself, my image and how to portray myself better.

But I guess the hardest part to accept here is that there never was one person who knew me through and through. It was hard to relate deeply to another being.

From passion vs paycheck, lust vs love, arts vs business, etc.
I will not choose either.

Thus, I’m an idealist. I will choose the option that appeases both.

And fortunately/unfortunately, nothing falls quite in between.

Impassioned.

I don’t understand how someone could express my thoughts half a century earlier and double a dozen times clearer.

I frequently mentioned that if I had a choice, I would choose to be born a boy. However I wasn’t given that choice and I always believed in taking things in stride. I’ve appreciated what I’ve been given and never considered being anything less than a woman, except, I believe in female strength and equality. As kids, we were all told to have our own big dreams and creating our special impact in this world we co-exist in. Somewhere though, I believe things went a little awry and people conform to stereotypes, stereotypes of race, gender. People were told where they belong and how to be themselves.

Standing at 5 foot 2, I came from a protective Asian family with siblings one to two decades older and my parents, almost 3 times older. The following quote sits especially well with me.

“Yes, my consuming desire is to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars—to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording—all this is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always supposedly in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night…

– Sylvia Plath

Inhibited.

You and your idealistic self will bring the death of all kinds of relationship. I could tell it has been hard holding yourself to emotional and moral standards, only the mirror could fathom.

You’re all grown up. It’s safe now, to let your emotions be seen. You’ve been through enough to know where it’s safe not to be reigned. You finally know who would stick through the weird and lovely sides of you. And even so no matter what happens, you have you. You, that believe in what you always have. I know you know how powerful your own feelings could be, you’ve seen and felt them when it was premature. It’s time to face them head on yet again, with newfound wisdom and maturity honed over the years.

I trust that you can be safe now, to feel depth and soulfulness. And I wish you love and luck, garnering all the good fortune and karma accumulate, to find that one meaningful kindred spirit.

Incarcerate.

A physical reaction to attempts of caging, cornering or pressurizing. An adverse effect to intrusion of privacy, as well as freedom of physical & mental personal spaces. I always gave a lot of freedom, because that is what I crave. And of course with freedom, people couldn’t understand how to build trust. Trust is about values, trust is also about morals. I believe in giving freedom as long as moral compasses and values of people are aligned. Therefore, these ring true to all my relationships, both romantic and platonic.

Sat in a cafe with a friend on a typical erratic weather Sunday. Got bitten by hungry mosquitoes and moved indoors. My mind was being picked at, people wondered about me, my life and my decisions. I loved and admired that curiosity and genuine interest, at the same time because intentions weren’t blatant, it was suffocating. It was suppose to be mindless and casual, but indirect intentions started suffocating my need for liberty. Was my idealistic self at work again? I wondered why people would be more interested in my activities yesterday or tomorrow, instead of who I am today and experience me being present then and there. That’s what I truly feel happy about, when someone makes himself (herself) available to be present for me. That’s how I feel I’m important.

It started to become noisier. People were shouting over background gibberish. The cafe was full. My head started spinning as neon lights started flashing. I felt f*cking claustrophobic.

Indulgence.

I remember this sun. This is the happy sun. Feeling how it burns on my skin, it reminded me of happy times. Happy times when I was in Korea traveling on my own and taking photos with newly acquainted strangers. It was the same sun when I exited the fruit farm in Shanghai. It was the same sun when we set out with the yacht at Punggol Marina. The same sun I woke up to, to fall asleep on the bench of a neighborhood swimming pool. And all of these were times when I was present and indulging in that moment, of how beautiful the world, of how beautiful it is, to just live.

Define KillGwen.

Qn: Why “KillGwen” and what is “KillGwen”? Why are you so morbid?

Ans: What better way to understand and appreciate living, than to first embrace the reality that death eventually comes?

My real name is Lim Zhen Wen. Others call me by the name of Gwen. KillGwen started as a gaming nickname, I go by 3 gaming names, Gwen, Geniale and KillGwen. I created a character on a FPS game in 2007 called ‘Gwen’, but my stats sucked real bad. I needed a new nick that taunts – “KillGwen”.

Meanwhile I was studying to be a designer and was branding and also ‘concepts that are 360’. ‘Concepts that are 360’ means you could apply an over-arching marketing message to communicate about yourself or a brand. Thereafter, social media was uprising. I was one who was non-conforming yet liberal. I loved social media. I conceptualized my social media accounts on this theme – “Before Gwen was Killed”.

Though morbid as it sounds, it wasn’t intended to be that way. And no, I’m not suicidal. Let me explain. “KillGwen” actually means I will NEVER commit suicide, and if one day I were to die, someone actually killed me. When that day comes, what will be left behind will be my social media accounts – my memories translated to writings and images, of things that I thought were beautiful at right there and then.

I keep my social network profiles mostly public, I live to hope to have little to hide when I die. I appreciate little gestures and beauty of nature. I find many things inspiring and intriguing, so I share a lot, think a lot and feel a lot.

KillGwen is now also used for my WordPress, and I got the domain to mask over the WordPress URL.

Indifferent.

Some friendships were meant to be long dead. But sometimes we still try to keep them alive, because we believed in what brought them and us together. Despite the efforts though, it may die again since we can tend to let others decide the friendship we should keep.

Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary for friends to be meeting up daily or every two days, but they should always be kept close to our hearts.

People have different priorities and responsibilities, and that may significantly reduce the time spent together. We may meet them only once every 3 months but they’re old friends who’re as good as new.

People have different opinions and friendships come and go. Ultimately what we need to believe in, is the heart of the person whom you befriended in the first place.

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