Helplessness

Today I felt helpless. It’s a weakness I can’t quite understand completely or find a defense mechanism to, yet. The last time I felt helpless was leaving the place I tutored regularly and letting go of a responsibility I had committed to for close to a year, with all my heart and mind in that time. And another time was in June at the dumpsite visit at Cambodia, witnessing the disparity resultant from the cruelty in the lottery of life that some where some, unfortunately, lose. It’s difficult to explain it fully because the instances in which I’ve felt helpless are painful to recount explicitly, but I suppose countless times, this feeling finds it’s way to me in times I least expect and crushes me.

Somewhere in the midst of self discovery in the past few years, I have learned that the emotion that the feeling that brings me closest to complete ruins is the feeling of helplessness. It’s the one that completely consumes me inside out even if it began with the smallest tinge within me, it grows. And it triggers the most irrational thoughts, unexplainable sensations- an experience that is no less than awful. 

That’s all I had to say today, here’s music I enjoy as I return to my copy of KS Bull and appreciate the brilliance in the way my peers and seniors use their words, distracting myself.

There’s something beautiful about unoriginal music, where artists adopt pop songs and create their own renditions of the same song. Enjoy!

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The Spirit of a Warrior

1424305_10201130466523667_2026596964_nI’ve had lesser to say these days as the focus has been shifted to trying to find my way back into my comfort zone for just a bit. This means more time spent alone, more time spent with intimate company and a little more thinking than talking. And so I’ve been thinking– it has been an entire year since our batch’s Farewell Alma-Mater (our rendition of graduation prom) as our juniors walk through the school’s Evelyn Norris Hall for theirs today. A year ago, in their position, I had refused the temptations of the 75-dollar prom and spent a good month following which with the looming fear of the impending uncertainty of this queer thing called ‘Junior College’. 

But clearly now that I’m back before my computer typing away, I’m reminded of thoughts I’d like to be shared. And today, I want to be talking about the spirit of a warrior that I have learned from not just my family members, but also the numerous people I have come to learn from and respect in this year ever since I walked out of the RGS School Gates in the dark blue pinafore for the last time.

The spirit of a warrior, is one that doesn’t back down. Despite the struggles and the challenges, the uncertainties or the obstacles, it is one that chooses to put its best foot forward instead of take many steps backwards. In face of external pressure, it is one that remains firm; and under the influence of similar forces, it is one that filters to receive the constructive bits of those forces. It is a skill. And this year, I have seen it possessed by so many. In my relentless Youth Corps team that is still, today, diligently in search for constant improvement of ideas to deliver the best despite the countless times we may have been thrown offshore by changes in direction; in the classmates and schoolmates, whom I have seen studying, and focused, in the pursuit for the understanding of a discipline or in the batch, as a whole, where everyone appears to be engaged so completely in the process of gaining that ‘ticket to a brighter future’, or so they say.

I respect this spirit because of the power it gives the people who possess it: those who dare say what they believe in because they want to make a point, those who defy the social norms just because it’s meaningless to conform to this mould of what the community expects of them and those who look beyond the narrow appearance of what the everyday routine of a Rafflesian seems to be about in order to find purpose. I feel like that makes the people who stand out so much more different than those who don’t, and I am thankful for my family who remains a constant reminder to possess this spirit of a warrior. For it is people like my sister, who reminds me to do what I want and not what others want me to even if it’s more difficult. Without which, I would never be doing most of the things I have found myself doing in this year that has come and gone.

Farewell October

bye octoberI do believe in commemorating art and memories, the beauty of the things that surround us and that we tend to subconsciously breeze by without noticing. Because that makes us live more consciously of the things to be thankful for. October has come and gone real quick, and trying to think about where all this time has gone to in a flash is challenging. But in summary I realised, that I’ve spent this month focusing a lot on finding new direction in academics and finding time and space for myself, allow me to share with you the highlights:

Getting back Promos Results was like receiving back works of art I created- this is a strange comparison but allow me to explain. The way results resemble works of art, to me, is the idea of the sense of ownership behind them. The same way a work of art is created by its owner every stroke of the paintbrush and sketch of a pencil, the results were obtained with the hardwork of a student. And the same way one is the artist to his own artwork, we get to decide where to take our academics and results from here. I think the way this ‘academics and results and tests and assessments’ thing works in my head, is that it’s all a process that we largely a mastermind of. And wherever we are now, we have the power to decide where to go from here. Since it’s a process, it’s also more meaningful to compare where you have taken this process from the common tests and not so much where your process is compared to others (though this comparison serves a different, and important purpose in itself). But I guess getting back results this month was more of a reflection of my process, for myself.

Multiple museum visits brought me back to the heart of where I feel most human. In the museum visits that I’ve been on this month, both to enjoy exhibits with friends and to relive or experience the memories of those who have passed have been the most fruitful part of my month. I think the idea of putting together these artifacts and oral accounts that come together to reenact a person’s lives in the heads of those who come and go through these exhibits is an amazing way to celebrate the lives that have once passed- lives we can potentially learn from, or appreciate as part of what contributed to where we are today.

Preparing: And finally, preparing, has been the most tiring part of my month. In school, we’ve spent significant amount of time preparing for the Written Report submission and then Oral Presentation dry run. And on top of that, the Runway members have been preparing for our show next year through little stepping stones like Preliminary designs and Model Auditions. As if all that isn’t enough to fill my days, the Youth Corps Singapore team has been preparing for our Vietnam trip this December and we want it to be no less than fruitful. Sometimes the idea of preparing is tiring, it feels prolonged, something stretched and infinite. You can’t really see the end and sometimes, you feel the extreme- that it is unnecessary. But remembering that preparation is what truly gives us the sense of fulfillment the day we can scream ‘It’s COMPLETED!’ or ‘We are READY!’, and whisper softly to ourselves “I am so proud of what we have done,” I think I’ll hang in there for all these exhausting preparations.

Now onward to November! In this transition of school slowly coming to an end and us being in the limbo of having lesser work to do but having loads of Project Work preparation to be at, I hope to continue spending time at these things that I’d look back and deem worthwhile.

Product of Our Main Events

product of our main events

Meet one of the highlights of my weekend– dancing with this little one at a da:ns festival mass dance class event. I once published a post about the friendship that we share and somewhere in my archives, you’ll also find stories that culminate in this book I can imagine myself writing about the things we have learned from, with and for each other. One thing that I am reminded of this weekend, from these experiences I have shared with people and the conversations I’ve had the privilege to enjoy, is how we are all a product of our main events.

And by main events, I mean the big things that we are really doing in the small actions that we commit or the big beliefs we are actually standing up for in saying that words that we do say. I realise that the same way I subconsciously choose to respond a certain way to something, says a thousand words about the kind of person that I am. My involvement in Room to Read, in Interact and Runway, in Youth Corps Singapore; and my past involvement in the communities that I’ve crossed paths with all make up my list of main events. But the way main events contribute to who we become, appears to be the way we chose to exercise our involvement in them.

Take for example the main event that has recently come and past- the Promotional exams. The way we prepared for it, the way we sat for the examination- all of these appear to only have been the small actions and the essence of it that made this a ‘main event’ was the hardwork and perseverance displayed in the course of this. (I talked about this before). And so I’d say, that bringing the spotlight to the true main events, instead of the little actions or somewhat meaningless words that only have value when we you bring it in context of the essence of these main events.

Same goes for tomorrow, ‘Receiving Back our Promotional Papers’ is definitely yet another main event. The implication I think it has, though, on showing who we are or shaping who we are growing to be wouldn’t be affected by the alphabets that gather on our report card per se, but whether we choose to flaunt an ‘A’ grade or resolve to work harder from a ‘B’ grade.

The Day We Submitted our Written Report

in 2 weeks

It has barely been two weeks since the Promotional Exams ended and I had consecutive days of being in places I love with people I adore. The photo above was from that temporary happiness that followed the end of the exams.

But from that temporary break, the Written Report madrush had put my life on halt ever since with days and nights overwhelmed with Whatsapp discussions, debates over meals, late night discussions and a frenzy of thinking, typing and talking all at once. It had pressed a temporary pause button and prolonged every second of the day, every minute, each one maximised with my team members and myself before our devices typing away.

For the past (slightly less than) two weeks, my PW team had come together and did a major overhaul to our Written Report. The day we got back our WR Final Draft, I still remember us sitting outside the computer lab, broken by our PW teacher’s unhappiness toward our report for the umpteenth time. I have lost count of how many times we’ve relived this scene after consults, or upon receiving drafts we had worked hard on. But from that moment to today, our endless meetings and continuous working finally created a WR we can all say we take pride in. Though I can’t tell what an ‘A’ for PW really looks like, considering the numerous consults only left my team increasingly clueless by the contradictory or confusing comments; I’d say if there was one thing I had taken away from this 7 month (suffering) experience, it would be the friendship that was forged through this experience. And the parts of this experience I would never forget, would probably be the way we stood by each other, slowly learned to accept one another’s strange and differing working styles and found a way to laugh in the most exasperating moments of our lessons and consults.

The lead up to today’s submission was one that involved anything but sleep, but it was also this time that the resilience we possessed as a team made me feel prouder of us than ever before.

So I suppose it’s safe to say that as we finally all go to sleep tonight, today would be a milestone that marks the good day we finally let go of our Written Report for the four of us. See you on Saturday for our the beginning of our actual last lap.

Happy Berkeley Birthday Sis!

long distance siblingshipDear sis,

Happy Berkeley Birthday (I love saying this because the alliteration rolls off my tongue and it sounds nice). It’s been 52 days since you left for California and thanks for constantly keeping us all updated on your 1001 adventures to the most beautiful places around your school. You have no idea how much I want to be there.

In light of your Berkeley Birthday and this long distance siblingship that we will sustain until you return, here’s to the things that I have missed since you were gone:

First, I haven’t returned to the gym we frequent ever since you left because I have no idea how to get there by public transport and no one is willing to drive me there like you do. So I miss that, and hopefully when you’re back I don’t become an unrecognisable ball of fats. In my defense though, I still run regularly, and I run the extra kilometre thinking about how you effortlessly run for endless hours and feel inspired. And now when I think about it, I only really started exercising this much and taking care of my health because of you. 

Second, these days when I come home I sit alone at the table we used to sit for hours catching up on each other’s day as if we haven’t met for years. I would sit there reading the papers, with my laptop and a cup of coffee, but these times without you before me to talk to. And I miss that, but thanks for still calling me to check in on me and my life despite being miles away, only you understand how much I need to get everything out of my system every single day and how I can talk endlessly about the thoughts I’ve had about my day. 

Third, when I go to bed at night I miss having the last words I say be “night sis”. Though the trade off is that now I can sleep in complete darkness instead of having study table lights keep me awake for an extra half an hour, but considering “night sis” used to mark the end of yet another chat about what were going to do the following day, I miss that. Thanks for always caring about what I was going to do with my next day.

Fourth, and I think the most important one, is getting the best advice from you. Because you knew me inside out it was always easy to call you in the middle of the day to tell you about even the smallest of things like something someone just said to me or something I just saw (even if the call lasted 30 seconds). You can remember all the things I tell you, from my friends’ names to that of the mean people in my life; and you can remember my favourite teachers, classmates, orientation groupmates, seniors, juniors or the things I have to do with the days of my week regularly. That kind of memory testament to how much you care for me is precious and the support it gives me is priceless.

So for these four things, it’s consoling to know that I have someone who does all these for me and is so consistently a part of my life that everything reminds me of you. Just 313 days more left, hope you had a good day and see you on FaceTime soon.

Yours,

Sis

Today is an Important Day

gabyjeyyphotographyToday is an exceptionally important day for two reasons- first, it is my sister’s Berkeley birthday (I’ll have this explained in a moment) and second, it is the last day my home will look the way it has looked for as long as I have lived. Allow me to elaborate on them in a little more detail:

So my sister turns 21 today in UC Berkeley while she’s there on exchange for a year, and because California has a time difference of about 15 hours behind Singapore, I have gotten the luxury of wishing her twice, and my sister, on the receiving end has had kind messages showering her with love from her Singapore friends and family followed by those in California. How nice it must be for your birthday to last 48 hours long. I can’t seem to put everything I want to thank my sister for or remind her I love her for all in one paragraph, though I did try on her birthday last year (See here when I attempted to last year).

And about my home, today we are moving out for about two months to have this place renovated completely. I suppose in 61 days we will be back in this same place, but it will be different, the only thing that remains is the feeling of being with family and the location, everything else changes. It’s like how your furniture and inanimate objects only become more valuable when they are attached to sentiments, memories, emotions, thoughts and moments. The thing is, every single corner and part of my home holds that much meaning to me that throwing all that out for the new hurts a little more than a little bit. But the idea is not all bleak if I keep in mind my parents’ dream house that we are creating, and savour the moments where their eyes twinkle and breaths hasten just talking about the type of beds they wish for their children to rest in and the colour of the rooms they want for themselves.

Hence, today is a very important day for me and thank you for sharing this mix of feelings I can’t put a name to with me. Have a good day yourself!