someday it’ll all be over.

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Our twenties are supposed to be the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are stastically found to be married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life.

I never quite understood this till, well today.

I started the year bitter and anxious to prove myself to no one in particular. What that led to was a vision tainted by a cynical glare. I questioned many things; my life and what I was doing with it. People came and left but to those who stayed, even they had trouble identifying who I really was or trying to be at that time. I felt like at 25, I needed to act a certain way – to develop a maturity that blossomed over night. I had to be satisfied with life, drink alcohol with a distant nonchalance and wake up sober the next day. 364 days later, I still wince at the taste of alcohol and have problems sleeping at night.

It seemed like there was race to get somewhere, to be someone. The faster you supposedly learn the most difficult life lessons, the sooner you can subsequently lead a great and successful life. Coming to the end of the year, I have registered that no one really gives a (flying) fuck.

Are you still alive? Are you making any plans for that to change any time soon? Then, honestly, nobody cares. Sure, friends will drown you in platitudinal emojis and your parents will start calling you more, but fundamentally, hearing about your shithousery that is your life is as compelling to the average happy person as opening a gas bill. Someone else’s gas bill.

And this is because by the time you’re in your mid 20s, literally everyone—princes, models, the neighbour who cooks too well—has experienced heartbreak and failure before. Nobody is going to want to spend a whole weekday night listening as you warble drunkenly about how your frustration was any different from all the other failures/relationships ever recorded in poetry and song. If you still have those friends around you, I learnt this year to treasure the people who still take your bullshit.

I wouldn’t say that this year is a failure or a success because it cannot be considered as either. This has been the most turbulent of years to me: ego completely blasted to smithereens by a tutor, fell too easily in love and have it slammed in my face. But yet, through this I have learnt to appreciate the good things, to celebrate the successes no matter how small.

It took almost the whole year for me to learn it; and even though doubt still creeps in, I am at least aware that good things actually do exist – they don’t just appear in fairytales. It is there, out of sight and in small doses but it does exist – extracting you from your doubt into something quite beautiful. You just have to find it and let yourself fall from the high when it ends.

Resolutions aside, this is the year I want to crave life and be open to experiences – to fall in love hard and passionately, to tire myself out by wringing every bit of learning from my education. So I guess this year I will no longer be safe, failures to spur on determination and well if my twenties are meant to be turbulent, let 2015 rock my world.

Love hurts, but not as much as not loving. You know what 2015, I will see you on the other side.

so let go

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It is considered as a sign of incredible strength, at least many people think so. However, instead of believing in holding on and hanging in there, there are times that it takes much more strength to know when to let go.

A recent conversation with a friend made me realise that through the years, the dynamics of our friendship has changed. A series of photos of them on Facebook had the usual images of days of fun, scenic images and communal dinners. It was fun to see the photos until I realized that something seemed to be missing; I was no longer there.

Being away from my friends is a breath of fresh air. I try my best to see it as a good thing because it makes meetings back home a lot more treasured. So being so far away, it justified for being left out or not being invited to the festivities. It was no one’s fault and I am not terribly concerned about it.

However, having so much distance between us; I am not in the joint partnership of creating new memories. As such, all I can do is reminisce the old ones. These were the people that meant the world to me all those years ago – taking overseas trips together and being able to catch up with each other’s lives in that kind of immediacy. Despite all the odd irritations, I love these friends fiercely for helping me through the difficult days of my adolescent life; but despite all that, the truth is, I am not sure if I am able to still call them my friends anymore.

And though that was hard to say, and harder still to write down, I feel better now.

As much as I enjoy hearing stories about the new lives and adventures, my friends will always be remembered as those geeky people who shared the same obscure interests as I do. School was made a million times better than because of those people, how we ever became fast friends I will never know.

Or maybe it was the communal activity of work that brought us closer together, long tiring shifts that started out by laughing at ridiculous customers made me feel like I was part of something. There were times that I felt that I did not quite belong, but really, it was enough. I am not sure how I would have turned out if it was not for those painfully awkward and growing years.

It was those people in the pictures on Facebook; the ones I am not in.

It is hard to remember that while I am away, life still goes on for everyone else. Graduation, toasts for first days at the new job and new relationships. I forget that through all these adventures, these people are diminishing in my life. The truth is, you can’t keep everyone in your world forever. Making room for new relationships means that older relationships inevitably diminish.

When did we stop talking over the phone? When did we ask each other about each other’s lives? I really cannot remember. All I am familiar with is your patient face as you try to understand me talking about my new house and me asking you to remind me when you got together with your girlfriend. Maybe it is jealousy talking as I find myself with limited time to spend with you but there is no hiding the silences as we stare down into our coffees. I have to remember that you are not the same person five years ago. And really, I cannot expect you to continuously update me about every small thing if your life.

So if we are no longer friends or as close as before, it’s not because of any anger or disagreement. It’s just what time does to us all – it passes through us in a rush, taking with it things we love and never thought we’d let go. But we do, we let go, because to hold on is to not grab what’s next. So we let go.

crazy dreams.

‘You have to allow yourself to be sad. But darling, please don’t be sad forever when there’s still plenty of happy to be had.’

I’m blaming it on the weather tonight, because all of a sudden the rain blankets the sounds outside and the chill makes you feel a little more alone. Facing a backlog of work to be completed, the night seems to pass swiftly and keeping track of everything and planning ahead makes me feel more tired.

It makes perfect sense and even smart to be on top of things, but keeping up a strength and vigour reminds me that it is more often than not, the strength is a very concrete, physical thing. It is as if you are trying to keep standing upright or holding back a tear. It is almost as if you are keeping a port in the storm and keeping still while the world around you whirls around wildly.

When you are strong, you do not allow yourself to wallow in any kind of pity, you root yourself to the ground and refuse to move – allowing someone to rest on your shoulder by not resting on them. But like every sugar rush, the pitfall that comes after is inevitable and often painful.

There is a need for some kind of strength within us, for someone or some sign to reassure us that things are okay when everything else is crumbling.

Sometimes there is a sense of victory when we berate others for responding to ‘I’m fine’ when they are clearly anything but. All we want to see is them being honest, opening that crack of denial that they had so solidly built for themselves. And yet, when pain gets too great and we are truly at a moment of emotional weakness, are we supposed to be the strong, silent type? It seems almost unfair to expect of us, at a moment when feeling the full weight of pain is most necessary, to squash it all down into some hidden-away compartment.

But the truth is, tonight I am feeling the mountain of strength breaking down. I want to experience the sadness and feel the pain; the burning ache of leaving a place and people I love, simply because I deserve it. To be sad about something pays homage to everything that was great, to all the things that it gave to you and to who you are today because of it.

Yes it is a form of weakness and to talk about your sadness. It is weak to focus on the pain you feel; but it can also be wonderful. It is in that moment that makes you feel alive and human; to step down from a front to connect to all the things around you. There are few times that you lose or move from something great but to be strong and silent in their faces is to deny that they have ever passed you and how important they are to you.

In the weakness, you may need to be reminded of what is good, and that the pain will subside. You may need to lean on someone. And that’s okay. So I know how it feels to be afraid, and tonight I am embracing it.

people

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What exactly defines independence? Is independence being able to stand up on your own two feet? Or does independence mean being able to venture into the uncomfortable?

If you take a step back to look at independence, you might realize that you are standing alone by yourself. If you do not have anyone to share your success and love with, just how much good does it do for you?

Self-reliance comes in various forms. It may come from a life decision to get away from an unforgiving past, or a pursue to achieve a goal that you want to clinch. It may come from a hurting heart, brimming with so much pain that you convince yourself that you do not need anyone else and from this period of time, isolation is the best cure.

Being alone starts to get easier as time goes by. It begins with a nervousness at grasping the unknown, it then envelops into a sick passion to isolate yourself. Celebrating birthdays start to become a desire for social commitment and that is just not part of any plan. What if you let someone else in and they can’t be there for you the way you need them to be, or worse, what if you can’t be there for them? You start to think that it will be easier to just keep to yourself and sustain surface level relationships with acquaintances than get emotionally involved to the point of heartbreak.

It does make sense to want to shut yourself out. It is well, just easier.

Gone are the pronounced silences between new conversations and the upkeep of listening to someone else talking about their life – wondering when it is the next time you need to nod enthusiastically. So that’s what you do — rather, what you think you’re doing. You think you’re shutting people out, distancing yourself from others, and intentionally failing at communicating.

But then something else starts to happen when you realize what you have done. Despite your best efforts, you failed at shutting the world out completely. As it turns out, the rest of the world has been sustaining you all along — the very people you tried to reject are actually the ones getting you through the pain of being alone and independent.

You need that friend who will drop everything to listen to you talk about your latest adventure find at the supermarket. You need her to agree to every wrong decision that you insist is the best judgement at that time.

You need your mother who understands your need to dominate every conversation and to understand that electricity bills are expensive and justifiable. You need to see the grocer to glance a flicker of recognition even though you only see him once a week.

You then realize that you need everyone else just like how they need you. You need them even if it means needing them to leave you alone, just because it is better to feel both love and pain than to feel nothing at all.You need people. You need their hugs and advice and voices and presence. You need their love.

Barbra Streisand seemed to have got it right a while ago.

“We’re children, needing other children
and yet letting our grown-up pride.
Acting more like children than children.”

Even though people say that independence is true tale of success, perhaps “people who need people” — that is, people who love others and are not emotionally cut off from them — are the “luckiest people in the world”.

goodbye until tomorrow

A first post is due and it makes a little more sense that I am a day away from spending a whole year abroad to finish my next year in school. I never expected my three month vacation to seem so short but with no surprise, I do wish I spent more time at home with my family. Yet this three months have been a great exploration to my interests and catching up with people that I have missed over the past few months.

I am extremely thankful to be able to be part of the set-up team for the pantry at Shop Wonderland. For an established company to take a chance at an inexperienced barista like me, I am grateful to have this fantastic opportunity to join the team to make the store into a place to be proud of.

Perhaps this is a stint for me to explore what I really want to do in the future. Looking back, I did enjoy what I was doing and found great pride in discovering how a company like Wonderland For Detailed Planners worked. However there was something that struck me – along with every odd job that I seem to jump myself into. Finding something that I enjoy doing often leads me to thinking that I would want to do this as a living; which is often not a bad thing. But at this point I may have collected too many aspirations for my own good. The odd thing is that as much as I try to draw a relation to my major in university, I am quickly drawing a blank.

Second-time goodbyes are surprisingly not any easier than the first, just how to people do it. I would like to compare this to an olympic participant but heading towards a country that is not home feels like you have the hope and dreams of your entire family on your shoulders. It is a privilege yes, but what sinks in more it that you are trudging to new lands to expand your horizons and expected to come home triumphant.

Whatever it is I know that I have a fantastic group of people back home. I am not emotionally ready to start the next semester (probably never will) but this year my aim is to not just do fine but be extraordinary. There is no way to go but up. See you in the +61.