Kimchi dumplings with fried eggs.

I was thinking about the days that I am living out now. A lot of it revolves around hobbies and school, and in my hobbies I don’t interact with other people because writing and reading is pretty much solitary, and in school I have to put on a slightly more palatable vibe. If I am upset I won’t show it, and if I am angry I won’t go to class. Which rarely happens I think. The point being, I would like to enjoy each part of my life and this includes always writing truthfully and sincerely, and to never use my writing as a social veneer, as an identity, or to hurt other people.

But I still am uncomfortable saying exactly what I think online- because it is after all, a public space. I don’t have strong opinions about other people- homosexuality, religion, politics, nationality, all the rather hard to tackle topics. Not because I am unsure of my stand on such things, but my stand is generally “leave others to find out who they are, what they want in life, and never discriminate or be rude to someone else unless they are trespassing on my personal space”. My opinion is that you should not interfere unnecessarily in other peoples’ lives because it causes a lot of unhappiness for other people. We are just humans trying to find out what is meaningful in life and what makes us happy. But this isn’t a strong stance because it helps nobody.

I am slightly afraid that one day, my thoughts from 2016 will be dug out and put on display in 2030 or 2040. Do I really want people to know me as me, this little anxious dugong-hamster hybrid, or would I like them to see me fully-formed, as an adult, hopefully mature and socially connected?

My personality has definitely changed from when I entered university to five weeks later, when my final exams will end. I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a different view of life- how when I say “I’m studying business” people will ask “oh, NUS or SMU?” and I’ll be like “NTU” and they’ll be a bit awkward, because like me when I was in JC, I didn’t even know that NTU had a business school. But I really enjoyed studying in NTU compared to SMU, because of the #muchrepeated space. I love grass and trees and open spaces. In the past, I might have felt a bit inferior because I wouldn’t want to tell a grandmother’s story to justify why I chose NTU over other universities. But that was then, a period where I lived with people’s labels of me and how they perceived me as a person. Now I would say that I am slightly different- they can say or do whatever they want, and I am still me. Detached but not unconnected to others.

I remember in Y1 I was still hoping to control the future- the major I might take, the internships I might do, I even planned to go to China for 6 months for work/study. In the end, nothing materialised due to health reasons and I learned to let go of who I thought I should be, and just be. I guess the part of me that I value the most now is the willingness to start from scratch and just say ‘I don’t know’, and learn. Because when you are willing to learn, people are generally willing to teach, even if they might ask things like “did you study this before?” or “did you attend JFN?” There is no fault in being ignorant, but it is a pity if I am unwilling to learn.

Ironically learning to let go of the future doesn’t equate to lower levels of anxiety, because I am still very much stuck in the present. I have a clearer idea of what I like and don’t like, but that doesn’t mean that my flaws are gone. I can be really confident during a 1-1 interview for a job but start blushing during cell when we have to share about ourselves and I’m like “woman, why are you blushing? You know these people!!” And I can BS my way through a Q&A but fail to join my thoughts together while reading off a script in my head, that I memorised. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I have always been a bit off-balanced? I like talking to people unscripted, but I fail at doing things which should be perfectly done.

I don’t know what the future will hold but I hope that I will always have the time to talk to myself, and to find out my feelings for the day or the month. That I will always enjoy the journey and not only anticipate the day when the project ends or when I can leave the company, that I will not trip over myself in my eagerness to get things done. That I will not be someone busy with the unimportant and urgent. It is hard to balance everything. But as with all the other important things in life, the things which are hardest to balance and take the longest are also often the things which I will remember, because they meant the most to me.

Count your burdens, and then count your prayers.

Pastor Chris said last night, at the introduction to Daniel that in prayer our burdens should tally with our prayers. And that proclamation without prayer is not useless, but also not genuine and useful. I guess I am re-evaluating things as I learn them, because I always thought that God understands me anyway and he made me to be who I am, hence there is no need for prayer. If anything, I would like that extra 10 or 15 minutes of sleep. But if I think of prayer as being a conduit to God, the only way we can speak to him in an undistracted and totally devoted manner, then maybe I should work harder at making it part of my day. Although I still think that I come across as being very annoying because I have so many things in my life that I need help with- choosing a good career, a heartfelt way of writing, help with my physical and mental health, and relationships, all the things I want in my future.

If anything, I know I am inadequate, and I wonder what it feels like to create someone (like a child?) who is lacking in almost all aspects of life. I think the one thing I am good at is reading and listening to stories. Okay that is two things. Being a ‘try hard’ with no results just makes me really tired sometimes. I would like to start my own business in the future, with a plough back profit model for the underprivileged children of the world. And I also want to live in China. And I want to be a better cook. When there are so many things that I want, I guess it raises my expectations of how hard I need to work now?

Thinking about Christ and how he lived for 33 years on earth, in a human body. As Pastor C puts it, stuck in time and space away from God. Praying in lonely places and away from the crowd, from earth to heaven. I don’t know how that feels (although I can identify with the lonely places bit, because I often want to leave the room and go to the nearby grass patch) and I don’t know how all the previous saints and Christians who have lived and loved and lasted their 80-odd years on earth felt. Like I said, woefully inadequate for a 23-year-old. But think of prayer and acts as being ‘shrewd’, using the gifts that we are given for things we cannot see but believe in.

As with all things, learning to practice praying will help. If you can picture a sort of baby hippopotamus frowning and thinking carefully about her next sentence, with the dugongs floating by her, offering plates of grass and coconuts, that’s me. I am a very slow thinker when it comes to non-work related things.

If we think of life as a kind of Olympic games, some of life’s crises are sprints. They require maximum emotional concentration for a short time. Then they are over, and life returns to normal. But other crises are distance events. They ask us to maintain our concentration over a much longer period of time, and that can be a lot harder.
― Harold S. Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People


Quiet reflections on life

Lack of updates because I was living my life haha. I finally had one good night of sleep after what, 2-3 weeks? The upcoming week will be bad though- final interviews, two presentations, and hopefully completing a few personal things- the amount of preparation and sleeplessness that I’m anticipating, because I have a tendency to overprepare (26 pages of interview questions -.-). Work load wise it is not that much, it’s just the constant going out and being human-functional that is a drag on my energy levels I guess, sometimes when I’m really tired I don’t even want to put on makeup. It is just concealer, brow tint and lip balm, and then I look at myself in the mirror a few hours later and go “wow that was a bad decision.”

The fact that I always want things to be good means there’s a lot of internal pressure that I’m trying to regulate because I know that when I try to do more things, things that I wouldn’t have done last semester, things will give way and I can’t function at the same speed as before. A thought was in my head as I was heading home last night, what is my biggest fear in life? I guess my biggest fear is that one day, I will choose to die. I am not afraid of death- particularly in the last year, I have been doing what I want to do, which means that in ten years or so I can anticipate some sort of meaning being created. I am afraid that I will bend and then break under pressure (I also bought a hardcopy of Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, re-reading it!)

That could be anything from not sleeping for five days, or terrible sleep for two months, and then waking up with a cold feeling in my chest and that sensation of my airways being constricted, and understanding that if I am going to live my life out like this, then I am better off not feeling, not thinking, not ‘being’ anymore. I doubt there will be concentration camps in the future- I hope humanity has passed that stage. But if there are, I might be one of the first to give up on life. I hold on tenaciously to it, but am not very good at living out physical or mental suffering. I don’t think I am sputtering rubbish. I am quite tired, but I understand myself well.

In JC I was just a weirdo, although accepted because I could blend in relatively okay-ish, but now I feel a lot more…I wouldn’t say dull, but controlled and demure and it seems like the rough edges of my life was sandpapered away. I am no longer rash, although I did buy three boxes of meiji chocolate ice cream and melon flavoured melona ice cream last night. Internally, it is a whirlpool of heartbeats and fear and thoughts that won’t stop but externally, I don’t think I let any of that show, kind of like how an octopus has many limbs that keep it moving and the food supply wrapped closely around its body.

I don’t want to ask people what they think of me because people don’t tend to say exactly what they think, and we all have selective retention biases so it wouldn’t be very helpful. I wouldn’t say it is a ‘cover’ for who I really am, I think I just need a persona to hold on to so that I can live my life out, instead of staying at home all day being a neurotic cat. It is not fake, it is just me, but toned down? I guess what I mean is that I used to be different around different people, but I think increasingly, as I age, I no longer have that need to hide parts of myself, because those parts are of the past.

I feel that if people were to look at me now, they might see someone who is pleasant but a bit loner but also organized and relatively functional. I don’t know if that is the same as ‘dull’ and ‘unadventurous’, I think my idea of adventure is a little different from that of others- I would like to live on the mountainside with lots of animals and greenery, alone, in a little low-tech hut, for three months.