Tuesday, 25 October 2022

This is the year I take back my power.

I’ve always been an easy-going person, never voicing my preference for things and always going with the flow. 

My therapist once asked me to close my eyes and recall a time when I was younger that I felt I didn’t prioritise myself. A memory from secondary school came to mind. I remember really wanting to go home after a long day of classes but giving in to peer pressure to go shopping instead. 

This has pretty much been my life. Never really giving much thought to what I want, and letting other people and circumstances determine my journey. I’m sure there are many others like myself.

I always thought it was a good thing to just go with the flow - everyone is happy. 

But as I grew older, I realised that not everyone was happy. I wasn’t happy.

When you aren't clear about what you want, you bend your boundaries. You compromise on your values. And it is only a matter of time that you become resentful. At my lowest, it felt like I had lost myself altogether. It felt like I was nothing but an amalgamation of all the things that the world wanted me to be. And it took a toll on my mental health.

But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Even through the most heart-wrenching i-wanna-die moments, there are lessons to be learned. For me, it was through those moments that I realised I was gradually giving my power away. Each time I ignored my needs and "went with the flow", I was losing more and more of myself. 

Sometimes, what you need is to hit rock bottom before you finally learn to love yourself. To realise that no one else in this world is responsible for your happiness but yourself. It was through the painful experiences that I came to see, with greater clarity than ever, the things that I want and do not want in life. And that it is my duty to chart the path that I want. 

I read somewhere that it’s fair to not know what you want in life since you only have one life and no other point of comparison. I know that the choices that I have made and will make may not lead to the best life out of all the possibilities out there. But I think that as I turn 28, I now have a better idea of how I want to live. And I'll start by taking back my power.

It takes courage but I will be unabashedly me. 

Some people may not like you the way you are but that’s okay, you're not for everyone. And to another, you might be just be the friend, confidant or employee that they are looking for.

In the words of my Gen Z sister, life is too short to not be slayyyy.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

glimpse of us

lazy sunday afternoons are my favourite.

especially when it is drizzling outside. the sound and smell of the rain calm my soul.

it is the perfect mood for reading, meditating, and sometimes writing. all the things that i love.

and you, of course. dear you, who's sitting across the coffee table, hiding behind your screen.

your presence comforts me. over the years, you have come to learn what makes me completely at ease - some space to thrive on my own, but not too much that i start to feel anxious. 

i look up at you and give you the puppy eye. you get up immediately, knowing exactly what i'm thinking about. you read me like an open book.

you hand me my cup of coffee, perfectly brewed to my liking. my heart beats a little faster at the smell of the coffee, and the kiss that you plant on my forehead.

this is perfect, i thought to myself. 

and if only perfection exists.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Que Sera, Sera

"Only three percent of people do this jump," said the local guide. "It is quite dangerous and you need to have the right technique or you might hurt yourself. But I think you can do it - you are a good jumper."

We were on our third jump. I've always loved cliff-diving. I don't have a fear of heights but I still get that rush of adrenaline in the few seconds when I leap off the cliff and plunge into the waters beneath me.

The local guide, Wayan, observed the way I jumped from the 5 metre and 10 metre cliffs. He said he could tell that I was the fearless type - I never hesitated before taking the leap. And that I had good technique - I knew how to control my motion and land safely into the waters.

I guess I would consider myself as (sort of) an adrenaline junkie. A couple of weeks ago, I went on my very first dirt bike trail. In fact, it was my first time riding my own bike. In less than fifteen minutes, I was taught how to operate the manual dirt bike and sent to the trail, which was meant for riders with experience. Again, the local guide thought I could do it; perhaps because I learned fast and seemed confident. I completed the trail brimming with pride, but also battered and bruised from the multiple falls. At least I didn't break any bones, I thought. 

Some people say I'm crazy but I love the adrenaline. It makes me feel alive. I go about my daily life with my attention split between countless of things. I'm always, always tired. And then there's the occasional anxiety, which dampens your spirit. But when your life is at stake, every ounce of energy is focused on making it out alive, and you could almost literally feel the blood pulsing in your veins.

But adrenaline is not what you experience every day. And in the quiet moments like this - as I'm sitting by the pool in my bathrobe typing away on my Macbook - I'm forced to confront my demons. And the ironies within me become clearer than ever.

There is a fine line between recklessness and courage. Recklessness involves a disregard of consequences while courage requires the mental resilience to withstand the fears and dangers that may come your way. I think my greatest irony is that I am reckless and give little thought to most of the things that I do but overthink every little detail when it comes to matters of the heart. And almost always end up in a psychological impasse.

Dating again after two break ups shouldn't be that complicated a thing. But in spite of my fairly big appetite for risk, cowardice prevents me from taking things a step further each time I'm at the brink of something more than just 'getting to know you'. I fall fast and hard, but choosing to be vulnerable and giving someone the power to hurt you requires a different level of courage. 

Or perhaps it is not courage that I'm lacking, but the confidence that I have the right technique to fall safely. To be hurt but not to lose myself in the process. And to fully embrace the fact that whatever will be, will be.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

dancing alone

 "write drunk, revise sober"

I'm walking down the streets of Brooklyn on my own. The taste of Tequila from the past four nights of partying still lingers on my lips. I'm not too sure if I'm hungover, still a little high, or just tired - who would have thought that partying could be more tiring than work?

It's my last night in New York City. My friends have flown to Miami. I wish I could join them but unfortunately, I have to head home for work tomorrow. 

I have spent a total of five days alone on this trip. Traveling alone is an entirely different experience. It is liberating, it makes you feel pretty darn invincible, and yet it reminds you how alone you are in this world. 

Since eighteen, I've almost always had a companion to do life with. It's nice. To have someone to share everything with, to feel like you have an anchor. But it comes with its own set of anxieties and frustrations.

I've been learning to dance alone. It's scary but exhilarating. You are the author of your own story. And the people you meet become mere experiences. They come and go, leaving paragraphs in your novel. Maybe that's how life is supposed to be - nothing more than an experience. 

And then, there's that thin line between euphoria and hysteria when you're alone in your head. One moment you're soaking in the grandeur of the Manhattan skyline, and the next, your head is reeling from the profound pointlessness of life. It's a funny thing, I must say.

Nonetheless, I'll keep dancing. At least I've stopped wishing for this dance to end.

Now, would you like to dance alone, with me?

Saturday, 11 June 2022

growing pains

Love is the most painful yet rewarding thing in the world.

This is my second failed serious relationship. And it hits differently. You would think that by now, you would have learned what it takes to make it work. 
I learned from my first break up that all it takes is the willingness to keep fighting for the relationship. If I hadn’t given up so easily, perhaps things would have turned out differently.
I practised this in my second relationship. Throughout our arguments, I never gave up. We knew that fights were just part and parcel of a relationship, and that we were good. We bulldozed our way through. And no matter how painful it was, we always chose to love.
But eventually, we came to learn that love itself is not enough. Love is not enough when your values and beliefs are in conflict. Love is not enough when needs are constantly not met. Love is not enough when you have different boundaries and expectations, and no resolution. Love is not enough when you are together, but forget what happiness feels like. 
When I was little, I never understood why people who love each other choose to go on separate ways. But I think I do now. Living with someone every day, and doing life together, requires much more than feelings of affection. It requires maturity, open conversations, an alignment of values, and a hell lot of compromise. 
I’m turning 28 this year. I thought that by now, I would have found my end game and be living in marital bliss. But life tends to make a fool out of us and take on a completely different trajectory. 
However, I’m not distraught. I think I’ve come to see that these are growing pains – the necessary pains that we experience in life to grow in experience and character. 
Call me na├»ve but I still believe in love. It is painful af but I know that when you finally get it right, it will be the most rewarding thing in the world. 

Friday, 15 April 2022

incoherent thoughts(?)

I haven't written in here in a long time. It's hard to find inspiration when you're trying to clear a brain fog half the time. And I don't feel like writing something coherent today, so skip this if you wish.

Don't you sometimes wonder how things can change so quickly and drastically?

One moment, you're at the bottom of your class trying to not fail math. The next moment, you're receiving your master of philosophy from the praelector. 

One moment, you're running your personal best and the next, you have a permanently torn ligament, and the persistent dull ache reminds you of it all the time. 

One moment, it's till death do us part and the next is how to split the finances.

One moment, your mum is cradling you in her arms. The next, you're holding that same arm to help her take a step forward.

Nothing is permanent. And most things are beyond our control. I've recently come to learn that trying to keep the status quo, against the course of nature, only leads to anxiety. Take life one stride at a time. There are moments of disappointment, and moments of serendipity. And as I always quote the wise old King Solomon,

"I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind."

-    Ecclesiastes 1:14

Sunday, 23 January 2022

perhaps love

After 27 years of living, I think I still haven't fully grappled with what it really means to love someone. 

Is it a feeling of affection towards a person? 

Is it wanting only the best for them? 

Or is it wanting to possess and have all of them? 

None of these definitions seem to quite cut it. 

We are capable of loving someone even when the feelings of affection aren’t there. Even when we’re annoyed or frustrated with them. 

We are capable of loving someone and yet not want the best for them if it threatens our own survival. 

We are capable of loving someone while choosing to not have them because sometimes, we understand that it just wasn’t meant to be. 

What, then, does it mean to love someone? 

I don’t know. Perhaps it is whatever we make it out to be. 

Perhaps it is choosing to share some of your joys and sorrows with a person. Perhaps it is being upset or angry at a person, but choosing to stay any way. Perhaps it is choosing to step out of your headspace to see things from their perspective, even when it is so f*cking difficult. Perhaps it is finding out what a psycho the both of you can be but still choosing to say, ‘I do’. 

Perhaps that is love.
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