Beginning Again

Beginning Again

I’m not trying to be dramatic, living/studying abroad is, basically, beginning a new life.

In Marhsfield, MA

I learned this the hard way during my exchange to the United States under KL-YES in 2015 straight out of secondary school. It was only 5 months long, that’s just long enough to be an experience, right? 5 months is not long enough to truly feel like you’re coming home as you approach your host family’s house everyday. 5 months is not long enough to make an impact on your individual or the relationships you forge. 5 months is not long enough to justify the feeling of leaving more than a place behind you, to leave a life behind, as you board the plane home.

And yet it was much, much more than enough.

In those short 5 months, I learned to depend on myself, to immerse myself completely in order to make the most of my brief time in the US, made friends and family whom I still talk to and think of everyday. It was a life, in every sense. I had all the components of what one would usually constitute of a 17-year-old’s life: family, friends, school. I had a life.

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Soon to be: Bristol

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Come September, I will be a University of Bristol Law student. And it scares me more than I can describe. The process of beginning a new life for myself, overseas in a completely foreign environment knowing no one in my year, is arduous and testing.  I will be alone. Perhaps, in time, I will look behind and find (as I have once before) that this period of being utterly independent will be the most formative of the years to come. Truly, to be alone, is the ultimate test of one’s mettle: whether you will give up and sink or try harder to swim against the crushing currents the realization of being on your own.

I have rarely slept before two in the morning this recent week since confirming my decision entertaining my fears.  The fear of having to live alone without the comfort of my parents and home cooked food. The fear of having to make friends all over again. The fears go on, and on. But the most insidious one of them all, by far, is the fear of disappointing my parents.

Of course, there are parts to look forward to. As much as I’ve heard of them, I’m afraid I’ll have to discover them on my own. And what scares me the most is that I won’t.

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The beautiful Law faculty
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What I’ve Learned as a NEET

What I’ve Learned as a NEET

NEET: Not in Education, Employment, or Training

Waking at past 11 in the morning is not for me.

This status used to be a dream for me. The last proper break I can recall having from school was when I was 12 and waiting for secondary school to start. The summer breaks of the ages 13, 14, and 16 were spent studying on the following year’s syllabus while the longer break I had at ages 15 and 17 were spent on work and pre-orientation camps and embassy visits for my exchange student experience respectively. Even during my exchange program, I was expected to maintain good grades in school and participate in extra-curricular activities. Upon returning, I had a week’s break before diving right back into “serious” school at A-Levels college.

Now, I am on my fifth month on break since graduating from A-Levels last year. And it. Is. Driving. Me. Crazy.

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Where boredom drives me

I Know, I’m Such A Nerd

Well, I suppose I can’t exactly say that considering I was working five days a week until March and a little in April before and after a week-long trip to crash on my friend’s couch in Melbourne, Australia. Which makes me an even bigger nerd, doesn’t it, considering I’ve only been on a proper lazy break for 11 days now (beginning May 1st)?

It was wonderful at first. I got to watch any movie I wanted at any time of day and I finally got around to the 15 books on my to-read list (6-7 down – if this doesn’t scream bookworm I don’t know what does). It was the most free I had been for a while. I stayed up later and later, and I woke up later and later.

I couldn’t stand it.

Waking up to see the bright afternoon light streaming through your windows is the most disheartening thing for me to wake up to. Half the day wasted, half the day that could have been spent doing something productive, like writing another five blog posts or reading fifty more pages of the book I’m currently halfway through.

I used to envy those who got the green light from their family to take some gaps off from education here and there, and then the very few I was aware of who hadn’t read a textbook since secondary school ended but that sentiment has completely changed even in this short period of time. I find myself losing more and more motivation for continuing my university studies (for the record, I have always known I wanted to go to university and am not doing it on the whim of simply having a degree to get the job), getting less and less thirsty for education. The thought of dragging my ass back into the pressure of assignments and examinations scares me even now, it’s no wonder some people don’t want to go back to school at all even when they started out intending to.

TLDR

Being a Lays potato crisp on my Fella couch is just not for me. September, come soon! (Or not so soon… coming up next)

Friends and Getting Older

Friends and Getting Older

During the transition from primary school to secondary school, I clung hard to the idea – to the hope – that my group of friends would stay intact, that we would be a family forever (corny words for corny thoughts at a corny period of time). Being an insecure pre-teen, I left the security that I should have given myself in the hands of the social situation I was in at the time, trusting that it would remain a stable factor as I made my way into secondary school and the new experiences it would bring. I had grand expectations of the lasting bonds our friendships would become: teenage years together, adulthood together.

Of course, reality being what it is (thank God), things didn’t turn out that way. As the different people, schedules, and schools acted as the building bricks to the silence in our conversations and the gaps in our meetings, we drifted apart as naturally as the leaves fall from branches in autumn when the winter frost sets in. We found new friends, and for me, I found new ways to feel like I belonged.

Secondary school landed me with the widest and largest number of circles yet. Throughout the five years in secondary school, the circles only grew in size and number and by the end of my last year, it was difficult to renew the sense of being outcast, a role I had experienced playing (in my own head, in hindsight) numerous times during those formative years (as any pretentious emo teen would). Friends came and went, and I learned to tell the difference between those who meant to stick to their promises and those who didn’t; between those who were good for you as a person, and those who were too busy talking up castles in the air to improve you.

More sure of who I was, the idea of yet another change became more palatable as graduation from the government school system rolled around. I was “experienced” now, after all. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but feel a little doomed as the chapter on secondary school closed. In my head, sitcom-like montages were playing on repeat, the familiar feeling of wanting to cling onto something, to feel like I was finally a part of something meaningful, returning. Could I be certain? Of course not. Did I want to be? Of course.

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”

It surprises me now who I still talk to, who still talks to me, who I still wish to talk to, and whose conversations are long overdue. I think the biggest lie about friendships is that those who have been with you the longest, are also those who you will want to stay. I’m proud to boast of the old friends I have today (most of them friendships reaching their 8th or 12th anniversary), but I’m also glad of the friendships I have left to shine in the memory of the past rather than wither in the dissonance between us in the present.

The thought of letting go is hard, but when you realise that you are only holding on to ideals and fears rather than something real, you can loosen your grip and smile at the fleeting thoughts that come by every once in a while.

Hiatus

Hiatus

Regretfully, it’s been 2 months since I have logged on to this blog, I believe. It has been an unhappy 2 months of having the abandoned blog at the back of my mind but not without reasons.

One reason (or excuse), often heard, is that life got busier. I was in my last few weeks of work (a decision that only began to take emotional effect when the nostalgia hit that it would be one of the last few times I was to stand behind the counter and hide my temper with the fake pleasantry reserved only for customers) and an exciting trip of firsts awaited me on a solo flight to Mebourne (which I may soon blog about considering it has been a highlight, in many, many ways, of my 2017 thus far).

Another, is that my last blog post had me completely stumped (refer here: https://isaidblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/i-need-to-learn-korean/). I realised that although I could begin the post knowing exactly what to warble on in the opening paragraphs, I had no conclusion with which to reach as the post reached an acceptable length to be able to close in an appropriate fashion. I would then revert to the sub-conscious default mode of a motivational writer. Subsequently, once posted in the hasty and abortive focus of meeting personal deadlines, yet another post comprising of nothing particularly insightful for myself (and for any readers in question) went up on the blog with no sense of pride or having written something real at all.

Finally, I am back to my blog with the conviction of properly planning my future posts, rather than leaving it to the whim of the moment. Wish me luck!

I Need To Learn Korean

I Need To Learn Korean

Thesis: longer work breaks are inversely proportional to relaxation.

It really is the most ironic thing: the longer of a break I get, the lower my productivity. Or perhaps it’s just human nature: taking for granted the abundance of time we perceive we have and shoving our priorities into a corner. You could counter, “you should take time off for the things you enjoy!”, but it’s not so enjoyable once you glance at the pile of work building up in the corner.

And I have the worst procrastination channel possibly known to the South East Asian millenial with a laptop, internet connection, and hours to spend: Korean dramas.

Admiring Oppa with Red Eyes

It’s a vortex of binge watching without which you would feel incomplete because you have yet to discover if you predicted the ending right, dark circles, and a sluggish day. The drama sites consume all your available hours, creating a steep hole that only the tempting shovel of vicarious living can dig.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty content with life for the most part. I would even go so far to say that I love my life. But there’s something about living life through the lens of a female character being courted by dreamy men in sports cars and sharp suits, or experiencing a sweet high school romance again for the first time, that’s pretty hard to turn away from.

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Pls

Writing this four days after my set weekly deadline, I’m beginning to wonder if all that is worth it at all. I stopped watching TV for the very purpose of avoiding this chasm and yet the easy manipulation of teenage rom-coms have sent me spiraling over the edge into “just one more episode”. Those five hours could have been invested into effort leading up to buying myself my own sports car while looking killer (infinitely better than the situation described in the above paragraph)  or writing a sweet high school romance of my own for more to enjoy.

Falling off the wagon is so much easier than getting back on it, but the joy of a fruitful journey is ten times the happiness of a figurative nap under the figurative shade. Boundless enthusiasm given the discipline of hard work produces results worth a hundred times more than the procrastination that kills it. Of course, if your passion itself is K-Dramas (or any activity relating to its addictive qualities), then by all means go for it. But if your passion is being neglected for mere distraction, let us cheers to a more productive day, week, and year!

Now, if I could just pick up Korean I’d be able to kill two stones at once (jk).

(If you’re a K-Drama fan, comment! I’d love to discuss more with you 😉

Me vs. Me

Me vs. Me

This post could not have come at a more ironic time.

A week after writing a post on the importance of pursuing something simply because it matters to you and not because of the validation that others might offer your work (shameless advertising: https://isaidblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/it-doesnt-have-to-be-big/), I find myself pondering the very thing that I was trying to avoid pondering about: comments, follows, likes, shares, and views – the black hole of social media.

The blog posts I had meant for others to relate to and find meaning in garnered me 0 of all of the above while an introductory post and a (literally) Random plea for suggestions on how I could improve the curation of content on my personal blog got me more hits than they were intended to. Laying awake in bed during one of many insomniac, enthusiasm-charged nights, I had a mental conversation going somewhere along these lines:

Wise, Buddhist, ohm me: This is your personal blog for the documentation of your thoughts and your opinions, it was never started with the intention of being a viral social media figure. This blog is yours to be fulfilled in alone.

Ambitious, strategic me: What’s the point of writing without an audience? It’s like performing a role for an empty theatre. Art is created to be appreciated, to find gratification in. Go big or go home, right?

Safe to say, that conversation went nowhere. I wish I had a sophisticated ending to this but I might just make this an ongoing series for the upcoming weeks as yet, I have found myself completely incapable of rebutting myself.

 

It Doesn’t Have To Be Big

It Doesn’t Have To Be Big

My whole life, I had set myself up for something big (brace yourselves, this is a long one).

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Looking for the great wide somewhere

“I’m going to be a writer.”

When I was 12, I decided I wanted to be a novelist (still do, frankly). I turned 12 in 2009, so you have to remember this was the time where the shining, sparkling dawn of Stephenie Meyer and her army of equally shining, sparkling vampires blew up on all the bookshelves and movie posters so writing a novel didn’t seem like too big of a task for the me who had yet to figure out the difference between you’re, your, it’s and its. I mean, how hard could it be to write a cheesy story about beautiful, supernatural creatures? I’m not even trying to be sarcastic, I was genuinely obsessed (House of Night, anybody?).

I had it all planned out. I had the fancy title, the main character’s name – the works. It was going to be about beautiful bloodsuckers training together in an epic elite school and falling into forbidden love (sound familiar?). I could already see its acclaim – New York Times, Washington Post – it was going to hit #1 on all the bestseller lists!

Then my mom discovered my drafts and laughed – and I stopped.

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God bless satire

“I’m going to be a star.”

Right after the writer phase, I somehow got it into my head (for quite some time) that I was an extremely talented singer and songwriter. I had no stomach to do it all on my own so over the course of several years, I got together with and disbanded several of my friends and I. The only productive thing we got out of it was a YouTube channel that one of us currently uses as a personal method of perusal.

When my band/duet dreams died in the plenty of afternoons we spent starting a cover and not finishing it, I got a new idea into my head. Why couldn’t I go solo? I could sing and play the piano and I had a phone with decent recording quality – what else do you need to get big on YouTube? Furthermore, the K-Pop craze was peaking. What could be a more perfect musical assemble/marketing strategy than emailing all the contacts of recording companies I could find online about my brilliant idea of a “fusion” group and getting picked up for it (I got no replies, obviously)?

I had all the concepts for our albums ready, including how many we would release. I posted a total of TWO videos on YouTube, waiting for them to explode.

But when I got only 40 views in a couple of weeks – I stopped.

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How could you not want to be part of this ensemble? 

Conclusively

At 18, I looked back and felt just a little bitter, and not to mention disappointed at how I hadn’t been given the things I promised myself in my stage mom frenzy. Now at 19, I look back and I laugh, but I also learn.

It goes without saying that nothing comes without hard work and dedication, but there are also things you should continue to pursue whether or not you have the validation.

Just like this blog – WordPress just congratulated me on hitting 10 likes. A few years ago I would have deleted this entire blog out of the shame, “I’m not viral enough!”, or consoled myself blogging wasn’t what I was meant to do. But I’m not about to do that right now. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Sometimes, it’s just for you.