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reflections

last night was the first time i was honest with you. it’s strange how i always pride myself on being brutally honest but i realize now that perhaps i am no longer as truthful or honest as i used to be / think i am. i guess this is something i have to slowly work on and be conscious about.

so we sat on opposite ends of the bed while we thrashed out every single issue. i shared with you how i had doubts and felt that we didn’t bring out the best in each other and i questioned if you were good for me. my answer to the latter thus far had been a resounding no. but about 15 hours ago i realized that i had been a ghost with you. jaded about the possibility of another relationship working out and understanding first-hand that building a future with somebody could be easily broken down, i stopped putting in any effort. i used to be a giver. i used to talk things out. i used to take interest in finding out about the other person’s day. i used to confide. but for the past 16 months, i did none of that.

it’s hard to explain why a previous relationship that was so healthy and stable could have been easily let go, whereas a shell relationship of ours was so difficult to walk away from. i couldn’t explain it to my friends (thanks char and jo) who came over in the middle of the night to check up on me and i think the most frustrating part was that i couldn’t rationalize it to myself. self-awareness is so important to me and i realize that as a way of coping with hurting somebody (and myself in the process), i stopped being myself. i stopped working on building up my self-awareness because i didn’t want to deal with the guilt i was feeling.

i realize that there are still so many other things / issues about myself that i have yet to understand. i don’t know why my coping mechanism is so destructive. it hasn’t been like this from the start but i know that i was like this even with mj. past a certain point, whenever something went wrong, instead of believing in the person i’m with and trying to be honest or trying to work things out, i shut off my feelings and i allow myself to detach myself from the person / situation. and it’s as if silently i’m waiting (and willing) for the person to give up. i don’t know if this constitutes as “messed up” or “destructive behavior” but at the very least, i think i’m finally acknowledging that i have a problem. i don’t know if i hinted at this in previous blog posts but i realize that whenever i started becoming destructive, i was aware of it happening but i allowed myself to perpetuate such negativity. 

i am not this person. or even if i am, i don’t like who i am now. and it’s going to take some time for me to find myself again. i spent too long wallowing in self-hate and feeling ashamed for falling for somebody when i shouldn’t be. for the longest of times, i haven’t felt like myself because i turned the self-awareness switch off. being extremely self-aware was one of the things that i took pride in back in 2013 and until late 2014. 

it’s interesting because i started this post wanting to write about the first day of my relationship (i would like to think of it as the first day because we finally admitted out loud to each other that we were in a relationship but only a superficial one) but it ended being a self-reflection post. i’ve made too many mistakes and maybe i’m still not ready in terms of maturity to be in a relationship. but i’m going to really try to be myself again. and if it doesn’t work out, i won’t have any lingering thoughts of how i didn’t play my part to make things work out. 

anyway, if it’s your first time here reading this (i gave this link to a few of you) it’s my way of saying thank you instead of expressing myself through heart emojis. i really don’t like telling anybody about this blog because this place is more of a quiet place where i work towards improving myself – but i wanted you to read this because i turned to you or because you knew of the break up on Sunday. i guess this isn’t an explanation or my way of defending why i decided to work things out – but more of a way of assuring you that i’m not acting out of vulnerability and that i’m not making a rash decision out of loneliness. ok it’s very awkward i can’t think of a way of ending this post – see that’s why i don’t tell anybody. ok bye 

i am on a train again. i always seem to type out posts while commuting.

2016 has been an insanely long year for me despite it being only 4.5 months into the year. mid-february saw me going 100% independent from my immediate family, which entailed having a sudden urgency to find a source of income to pay for my daily living expenses, hostel bill and school bill. i was fortunate to have a family member graciously transfer me $5,000 to pay for my tuition fees as well as a portion for my hostel accommodation. but once that was paid for, the amount left in my bank account became a dismal number. although i borrowed from said family member, i wanted to earn my own keep to sustain my daily expenses because the ideal situation was that i didn’t need to borrow any money from anybody at all. so it began with taking on a f&b service crew part-time job at a rate of $7/hour which means that in a week, i needed to work minimal 8 hours because I needed to at least cover the $50 weekly expenditure on meals alone. however, after two weeks into the job, it was also clear that i should start sourcing for other sources of income (particularly ones that have better remuneration rates) because covering for just my meals alone were unrealistic. there were still looming bills to pay (phone bills, hostel bills for the next semester etc.) so i began looking for tuition jobs.

fast forward 2 months from then, i currently have 3 tutees (am tutoring primary school maths, science and english, as well as secondary 3 & 4 elementary and additional mathematics) and 2 f&b based part-time jobs. i juggle having 6-day work weeks (ie. i either work part-time at the f&b job or give tuition) with my academics and personal life etc.

i think of the state of anxiety that i was in 2 months ago when i had to fend for myself. and i remember how i resonated with the old adage of “Money makes the world go round” because it really mattered.

and i’m so thankful to God for giving me the strength and health (despite falling sick twice) to handle insane study and work schedules. the hell weeks this semester went by quickly without me feeling overwhelmed (as compared to the previous 5 semesters). of course, in retrospect, having to work every single day meant that i had to be even more disciplined in being more forward planning by starting on assignments a week earlier etc. but i know that God guided me through this madness and blessed with opportunities to find jobs. presently, my bank account is healthy and happy. any trace of anxiety or worry is honestly minimal. i am able to continue with my slated appointment at the national skin centre and order my monthly contacts. all by the grace of God. the best thing is that my first response was not to turn to Him – and yet, so much unfavored and undeserved grace.

actually the whole point of this post was not to share so much on the trial and tribulations that i had to go through. strangely enough, as the title suggests, i wanted to write about how i realized the importance of education and the opportunity to be educated.

i started working part-time at the second f&b company yesterday. during the lull period, one of the full-timers started a conversation with me and i found out that he has had a wealth of experience in the f&b line. it was also his first day at the company and he told me that prior to this, he worked at a supermarket, a japanese f&b chain, a crepe store and many other f&b related jobs. he was sharing with me how he actually went for interviews at the neighbouring f&b shops and i asked him if his pay at our job was the best (hence the reason why he chose this job over the others in the end). he told me that the pay was average and not fantastic but it was due to the job scope and having sundays off from work that cemented his decision. naively, i asked “is youe pay 3k?” and he replied that it was far from that – it was only at $1,254. and that’s when i got a shock while simultaneously kicking myself internally for even asking about the 3k since 3k is a starting pay for university graduates.. i thought of how i am currently earning about $800-$950 per month to meet my basic living needs (no shopping, all meals capped at $10 daily etc.) and i couldn’t even imagined how an adult could survive with $1,200 a month. it just seemed absurd considering how i expect an average of $3,200 – $3,500 salary upon graduation at my first job.

then he shared with me that his dream has always to be a make-up artist. he told me how he regretted not studying hard enough to go to the right polytechnic course that would open up doors for his ambitions. he shared with me that money was also a factor towards eliminating the possibility of this dream because attending make-up courses, getting professional certificates and investing in basic quality make-up tools were extremely costly – and he just didn’t have that amount of family support or monetary capability to fund his dream. of course, questions surfaced in my head such as “why didn’t you slowly save up to work towards your dream?” but i realised that perhaps he has his own difficulties (after all, his average $1,200 salary was before CPF deduction) and he may have decided that not pursuing his dream would be a better choice.

through this conversation, i felt as if things were put into perspective. while it has been a difficult two months juggling work and studies, i was still given the opportunity to continue studying. i didn’t have to quit school or put my studies on hold. and although this semester has been the best semester in terms of coping with the workload, being up to speed on assignments (with the exception of the B- i received earlier in the year for a 2,000 word assignment which i rushed out in 2 hours because of my lack of time management when i joined dance) and having enviable sleeping hours, i am reminded of how the past 5 semesters haven’t been the best in terms of managing my time, being prepared for classes and really understanding my seminars etc. i regret how i felt like i floated through my first year in university because i was seduced by the new found freedom after 19 years of living with strict curfews and lifestyle regulations. could i have been better at my accounting module? could i have actually excelled at my finance module? after all, i have always loved maths and i love tutoring the subject because of my genuine love for it. so many questions but it’s also a timely reminder to focus on the present and prevent past mistakes from happening again.

i don’t know if i went off tangent. but all i know was that after hearing his story, i felt… grateful and even empowered to be in the position where i could shape my future. there i was, feeling afraid of job prospects after graduating; will i get a job that is fulfilling? has a decent pay? career advancement opportunities? all these concerns whereas there are many others who have to content themselves with a $1,200+ monthly salary.

with only one more semester to go, and finals next week, i’m glad that i had that conversation because it was a timely awakening for me. it has been 16 years in a formal education system, and that was the very first time i thought “i am so fortunate to be educated.”

I am sad. and most of my writing is always fueled by sadness. I am sad and I feel that I have been sad for a while.

tonight I told you all the things I have been feeling. demons that I have wrestled with since late 2011. he really did a number on me, and his ghost still haunts every relationship since he left in January 2013. I am convinced that I am a slowly ticking time bomb and that eventually the people who say they love me will leave. I hate the whole “I love you” phrase because it is such an easy commitment to profess but it’s one of the easiest to break. I am convinced that I am not a good person to be with. Sometimes I feel great being alone; I relish in the feeling of being in control, being independent and having freedom. But mostly I feel vulnerable because I am waiting for the day where you discover all the demons I wrestle with in my head and decide that they are too many for you to handle.

and I am so negative that I am the spokesperson of pessimism. now I realize that I have became exactly like his ghost; negative, pessimistic and absolutely tiring to be with. 

tonight i walked down the long sheltered pathway – you know the one from my old block all the way to the sign that says NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION – with a heavy heart and the last time i took this route feeling something like this, it was after i walked away from our last confrontation. for the past five months i have done my best to suppress these memories; to forget the way you grabbed my arm when i wanted to leave, the way you looked when you told me how much I’ve hurt you and basically how broken you looked that night and the nights before that. 

so tonight i am thinking of you and I try not to because whenever I do I just feel like an awful person. I feel wrong for feeling happy. so perhaps all I’ve been is selfish from the start. if you’re reading this, thank you – because I guess a part of you still wonders how I’m doing even after everything that has happened – I don’t deserve your care or concern. I hope you’re doing well and I’m sorry. 

this post is at least a month late.

a month ago i went through my first hell week of the semester: 2 quizzes and an examination. started the week off with the first of the two quizzes – 15 questions (a mixture of MCQs and short answer questions) within a time limit of 15 minutes – and emerged out of it with a 3/15…… which is highly reminiscent of my operations quiz last semester now that i think of it

the next day i sat for my philosophy examination and i think i did alright. then we got back our essays, which i have probably typed a post about, and i got an A grade. and i texted m and said wow it feels so great to get good grades. and that’s when i really realised how i was so accustomed to getting mediocre (and even horrible grades such as the aforementioned 3/15) and i was even accepting of it. and i thought then – that being accepting is one thing, but not striving to do anything about it is a completely other thing.

i probably can’t pinpoint exactly when i decided to accept and be fine with getting such grades but here’s putting it down in words: it isn’t okay and i have always been a firm believer of the whole notion of doing your best so that you have absolutely no regrets. i guess somewhere along the way i stopped putting my belief into my actions. it’s only a few more weeks to finals and i am done with classes (still have my second philo essay & a team project due in the next five days) and i can’t wait to do really well this time.

also, everybody should buy a survival guide for life by bear grylls. initially i did have certain reservations and i think the book deserves an entirely separate post on its own. thank you m for the timely and meaningful gift.

it is five minutes after an individual reflection assignment submission and now i think i have a better understanding of the whole “breathes a sigh of relief” phrase because i started on the assignment slightly over twenty-four hours ago and still made it in time for the submission deadline. living my academic life on the edge.

i feel like i haven’t lied down on my back and thumb typed in a while and over the span of another grueling nine weeks of school i haven’t found the time to actively think. instead sometimes it feels like i live my life: from tuesday 0830-2200, wednesday 1430-1730, thursday 1130-1830hrs and friday mornings 0830-1030 motion to motion. and it is awfully frightening how time passes by extremely fast. also i started off this semester with greater expectations and hopes but a lack of better time management (and plausibly discipline) has not allowed for that to happen.

two days ago i sat for another predictably dismal accounting test and i quote zihui “falling into a self-fulfilling prophecy” whereby i proclaimed that i am absolutely hopeless in accounting but it made it wonder if i really am that helpless or was it because of the mental brick wall i create. then i am reminded of how i conquered amaths when i was 16 and how i have enjoyed it ever since and how tenacity and determination can play a huge role in changing outcomes. despite this i feel that i have gotten – for the lack of a better word to illustrate my point – more stupid ever since i stepped into junior college. also sometimes i wonder if God made this path a little more difficult for me as a reminder that relying on my own strength is never enough.

there are a lot of things i have set out to accomplish this semester and i haven’t

1. better time management and setting of realistic goals. i am champion in ambitiously writing out five to seven tasks in a day and i usually stop after completing three.

2. thinking critically, being a team member that contributes and value adds to the group. this hasn’t been one of my weakest points but has surfaced in one of the major projects this semester and is something that probably deserves more reflection.

3. understanding christianity. apart from stating that i believe in God because i have witnessed how God has blessed me, i have always felt uncomfortable in the sense that i know absolutely nothing about the Bible and God beyond a surface level.

this wasn’t meant to look like a resolution kind of post. in fact this post is highly disjointed hence the title…………..there really are a lot of things i want to achieve and improve on. mid-terms and upcoming finals are always a convenient excuse to not think deeper and act on my goals to self-improvement / self-discovery.

typing this out with the intention of remembering the conversations I’ve had over the past one week. conversations that leave me feeling very blessed to have met certain people in my life and conversations that have left me to ponder and question why things are the way things are.

the first conversation started off with the idle scrolling of my Facebook and then looking at the viral post of how a woman still chose to marry the man she loves even after he got into a car accident. this followed with the honest opinion of how ‘i’m not sure if i’ll be able to do that’ from my friend – and isn’t it so true – how viral videos such as this turn viral due to very touching nature of it and how people get awe-inspired by the sheer selflessness another human being can show. and it leads to think of why is it that such selflessness is so inspiring – isn’t it because such selflessness is rare and that ‘unconditional love’ is romanticized and a phrase easily thrown about but in actuality there is hardly a thing really such as unconditional love. so when we meet with such occurrences it jolts you (the viewer) to reflect and ponder and for a moment be inspired at how selfless someone else can be. but the thing is that viral videos are called viral videos for a reason. they spread like wildfire and flicker dimly within a matter of weeks. then the hype and inspiration is lost. we go about our everyday lives, living, being selfish, concerned with our well-being, the world is limited only because we let it be and then another video takes us by the fist. and the cycle repeats but generally,
nothing really ever changes.

then the first conversation went on to become a mutual sharing of fatal car accidents involving motorcyclists. which turned into both of us agreeing that car accidents are the worst kinds of accidents and also the worst way to die because of the grief that follows. then you stated how you thought that now was an okay age to die (not that you have a death wish) because you were still single and you haven’t started a family on your own. and then i found myself tearing because in my head i ran through the years and i thought of life without you. and then we took turns to cry. on a bus. with the construction workers taking turns to secretly turn their heads and stare at the two young adults taking turns to tear and then laugh about it, on a public transport no less. that was the night after many nights of not meeting and talking and leap frogging from topics to topics. that was the night – even if we had said many times before – that seals our friendship. you’ll be the person at all my major life events and i plan to be at every big and even minuscule events of yours.

the second conversation panned out in an unusual way with a person that i haven’t spoken properly to in years. i remember waking up and falling back to sleep and repeating this two steps more than four times before i finally decided to get out of bed, and then we started talking out exchange and i told you of how excited the idea of exchange is and how i really hope that i would be able to live that experience for myself. then somehow we moved onto university and God, and we shared our same perspectives of how when we grow older, we tend to make less friends. and by friends, we meant close friends. we wondered aloud and thought of how strange and yet how it all made sense: people gravitate towards those that they can click with, familiarity in personalities that you are familiar to and as such you shut yourself off – thinking and knowing what kind of friendships you want – and it is something that i knew (and am guilty of doing sometimes) but having a conversation about that just made it more apparent; of how judgemental i am as well and how very sad the whole thing is. i think that’s the beautiful thing about the innocence of children isn’t it.

the third conversation began after a few hours of measuring cups, sifting flour, weighing butter and waiting for batter to cool. tired shoulders and a comfortable couch. i don’t even remember how it started but i know the main parts: you shared with me your experience of God, church and cell because i asked. i shared with you how i was always intrigued at how you proudly proclaimed your faith and your blessings and as such that led me to always wonder exactly why and how did such faith come about. i don’t know how long we spoke. an hour and a half – which was more than enough time for the batter to cool – and it must have been one of the conversations that i have ever had so full of sincerity and just those kinds of conversations that makes you feel so at peace at how things are. after i left i remember texting you a long text of how grateful, thankful (and all the other synonyms) and blessed i was to have this friendship and how glad i was to have maintained it throughout these 4 years.

//

i started typing this post a month ago and finally got down to completing it. when i first started i remember how i wanted to document all my thoughts because i was just feeling so extremely thankful – and also because i didn’t want to forget these conversations – and again i feel like i am reliving these conversations by finally finishing up this post.

word count right now is 967 sometimes i really like the idea of being a writer