Irony.

I didn’t use to have a lot of confidence, not really high-esteemed. A lot of what I think or others think I have now, was not something that was evident to me. In fact, I thought I was the total opposite. 
For a start, I never knew I could write enough to save my life.

There were a lot of people I used to care about. Far too many. Too many not because they don’t deserve it, but because I spread myself too thin trying to please everyone. I believe to everyone I meet on every touchpoint, I was sincere and open. But how could I possibly be able to maintain so many precious friendships? I lost contact with some of them. 

At times, I really really miss them very very very much. 

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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.

 

Certainly.

Life is running into a whole bunch of uncertainties, one after another, and forcing ourselves to decide what we’re going to do about each of them. We stop growing once we decide not to face that uncertainty – or not deciding – ever again.

Slumber.

Once in awhile, I get that one day which I feel so tired of not getting to where I wanna be, doing what I wanna do. 

I wanna find a huge rockable cradle that has an inbuilt heater function, put it in a large serene room with animated light art – like those at the galleries, play some twinkle tunes from the musical box and rock myself to the most peaceful sleep ever.

Or alternatively, perhaps a person that holds my hand, let’s me feel all of that safeness and warmth with his/her presence and hugs – assures that everything is gonna be okay. In which the architecture of this person is art, and the voice be a soothing sound to my heart. And that this person -though more human – will be unmovable like this amazing slumber room. Someone who will never ever leave, until I get the longest slumber of my life.

Homemade.

Nothing beats homemade curry rice by my father on a rainy day.

Literally nothing.

Except maybe my mother’s omelette with long beans.

The understated notes of black pepper and paprika, loaded with curry powder and onions, you could taste from the potatoes cooked till the right ‘doneness’. (In my family, everything has a certain type of doneness, even potatoes). My parents are amazing. We fight, we disagree, we annoy the hell out of each other and it’s not always smooth sailing, but I love them to bits.

Mummy is quite the feisty one, she grew up in challenging situations and she figured out her life independently. She was harsh, she challenged me, but made me as independent as her. I would describe our relationship kind of like tough love. She taught me sometimes the person with the harshest words love you the most. The one who taught me how to protect myself yet protected me when odds were not in my favor. The one who wrote my Chinese words for me to submit but then made me write another page to show her that I learned. The one who showed me Chinese was not intimidating and made me passionate about it. Her who sacrificed her youth and drive to raise us to adults.

Daddy is quite the non-confrontational one. The peacekeeper. The one who would draw with me when I cannot figure out how to draw ducks at 4 years old. The one that would ask and understand my exploratory paintings even when it looks like strange streaks of color. The one that would fetch me to school. The one that would wake up to wake me up. The one who shows me acts of service makes love the real deal. The one that shows me he does it, not because he thinks I cannot do it but wants to genuinely show his concern. He inspires me to be humble and appreciative. He cooks great meals, but he almost never cooks. My mother used to cook frequently, and each time he shows his eagerness to enjoy my mum’s cooking. He taught me sacrifice, because I learned that his family is his duty. He used to play the guitar, but I’ve only seen him played once when I was a kid.

Each day I learn more about my parents. I understand them more. I’m glad I never gave up on communicating, despite how difficult it was at various phases. Because of them, I understood what love is to me.

Love is consistent, anything else, that is not love.

Love is a series of deliberate choices, moments, consistent considerations, that you show each other, and thereby translating to bulks of good, positive feelings. It is not induced by feelings, it induces feelings.

Love is not winning, if you see her upset.

It is not instant – like the moment you get together – that’s being a pushover. It’s an understanding. It wouldn’t happen overnight, people fight, quarrel and learn each other’s boundaries. We learn by being honest with each other. Teach each other that aggression is toxin to the soul, accept and make a conscious effort to want to work it out with them.

Love is understated, classy and timeless.

Love is not always showy and grand. They disguise themselves as nags, reminders and bland food, if they make you the better person you want to be. Love volunteers their services even if it sometimes means going out of their way to make your life a little better. They also end it with a smile. Or perhaps, a pouty glare or rolling eyes when we fucked up, but still solves the problem and laugh at your silliness together at the end of the day. They always kiss you goodnight. It withstands time because they won’t change in their quality of love. And we never take it for granted.

The best kind of love makes you feel warm, and yet you received it delicately like it is soft and fluffy. It fills you up, like you got a fresh set of lives on Super Mario, and leave you with smiles of satisfaction. Perhaps, just like the most perfect meal I could ask for – curry chicken rice and omelette with long bean.

Inspire.

If you see beauty in something, don’t wait for others to agree. 

– Sherihan Gamal

Liberation.

I like a song very much such that it’s been one of my ringtones since 6 years ago. It gave me a sense of an ideal evening. With the sun setting, pale blue skies. Orange light casting harshly on the white walls. It’s the most beautiful time of the day.

It meant reunion to me. Reunion to a loved one after work. Reunion to my passions and hobbies after classes. Reunion with my bed when I’m busy being with myself. It’s also the best time for hugs, cuddles and romantic afternoon teatime. My sense of romance, though, isn’t always gushy and showy. It’s an afternoon with cakes, tea or coffee. Holding hands across the table. Smiling and basking in the presence of one another, having conversations about our silly life problems. Romance to me seems to be a series of comfortable moments. Delivering over with packed lunch because food just suck at workplace canteens. Sending each other their favorite songs which are not played on mainstream radio. It’s kinda simple, yet specific.

This song is Santa Monica by Savage Garden. Mainstream but gold. It spoke to me in its tune and lyrics. And now I thought, it’s not only on the telephone line I can be whoever I wanna be. In writing too, I can be whoever I wanna be. I can write stories, I can write about love that didn’t happen. I can write an emotion, a thought, or describe the most perfect face I’ve ever encountered. I can be however I wanted to be. And with that I can now preach this quote,

“…everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

– Sylvia Plath

It is now that I finally attain the outgoing guts to do so. I used to be so afraid, insecure and couldn’t put up with being misunderstood, as well as explaining to those who’ve misunderstood me (especially if they mattered to me.) I figured now, that I don’t really need everyone to understand, because those who truly matter, eventually will. I feel liberated, it’s nothing to be afraid of anymore.

Be weird, be strange. Embrace change.

Disambiguation.

Writing,
Is raw and simplistic.

Experiences of my own or others’,
From which I draw feelings.

Situations or emotions that need not be personal,
States of mind that could be one of yesterday’s.

It might or might not be,
And it’s beauty is in ambiguity.

Read and deep beyond skin deep,
And love it like a great movie.

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