punishing the good

This is not the story of how good deeds go unpunished.

This is not the story of how good people are always on the bad end of the lucky spectrum.

And this is not a story of the good being bad.

No, this is an experience that I, and millions of others have all felt and encountered at least once in their lives. This is the root and cause of all lack of motivation to aspire and inspire and this, unfortunately, needs to be addressed.

I went to religious school from aged 7 until I was 14 when I decided that I’ve had enough of it. Being raised Muslim wasn’t anything bad. In fact, I cherished the idea of being Muslim because I felt like it was a religion that made the most sense to me and one that God truly listened to.

When I was 13, I remember taking an exam for religious school. We were to perform a proper set of prayers with recitation in Arabic and everything else including what to do next such as prostration, standing and so on.

I was raised a Muslim but not religious. I didn’t know how to pray until I was 20. I could read the Quran but never finished and it’s been at least seven years since I’ve touched one. I have a hijab set at home but never wear one out.

In a normal Muslim’s eyes, everything that I am is worth condemning for.

During this particular exam, I couldn’t perform the prayer. I didn’t know how to and all I did was just guess what to do next. I didn’t even recite anything because I had zero knowledge.

The examiners watched me with frowns on their faces for about 5 minutes before one of them stopped me.

“You’re a Muslim and yet, you don’t know how to pray?”

Her question seemed simple but her tone was clearly condescending to me.

Yes, as a Muslim, I did not know how to pray. Was it worth something punishing over when all I did to do was learn? Why are such behaviours punished for? This was a religious school and I was being questioned on my lack of knowledge?

From 14 until 18, I was devoid of any thought for my religion. I was embarrassed of it because I felt like I didn’t know anything about it and was therefore unworthy of mentioning or thinking about it. I avoided it like the plague. No, I did not abandon God but I abandoned all my persistence and motivation to learn.

When I was 10, I failed a maths test.

I was smarter than the school average and was sent to a smarter class but as a result, I was one of the weaker students in the particular class. I failed my maths test for the term and received 4/10 for my grade.

Everyone was rejoicing over their grades while I hid mine in embarrassment. My peers around me knew how bad I was and asked what my grade was but I refused to reveal my grade so during break time, they snuck to my desk and by the end of recess, my whole class knew my bad grade and laughed at me.

I cried on the way back to class and my teacher said minimal to nothing about the situation despite being aware of what happened.

Why am I being punished for trying my best only to fail? Why do I get laughed at for being bad at something I didn’t ask to be bad at?

When I was 12, I was in extra after school classes that my mother paid for. They were for my primary school leaving examinations and I was doing badly in maths. I was often the weakest in any maths class and this was no exception. Because of my lack of knowledge, I was rarely motivated to do any homework and to be given extra homework outside of school? This was worse.

I remember sitting in class, being asked by the teacher of how I could solve a simple fraction equation. I knew enough but I didn’t know how to solve it. I specifically admitted to the teacher that I was unable to solve it and I didn’t know.

She waited in front of the class and asked me to tell her what should be done step by step.

Even when I didn’t know the answer, I guessed. I recited off steps that I thought were familiar to the question and she didn’t write any of it down. Instead, she stared at me like I was stupid and shook her head in disbelief when I was done.

“Out of all that rubbish you’ve just told me, you could just do this and this and this.”

She proceeded to write her own answer on the board, embarrassing me further after I specifically told her that I didn’t know what to do.

Why am I being punished for trying to learn? Why are my good intentions being punished?

In my eyes, the world is against us.

Stop punishing what you want to see. Stop punishing the good intentions of the people around you.

“Look who decided to finally join us for dinner.”

“You actually finished your work?”

“How can you study so hard but still get a C grade?”

I do not think that it’s right to punish good behaviour despite how much it doesn’t match your expectations. People are trying and motivation should be given, not taken away. You should reward, not punish.

If it wasn’t for the teachers who saw my potential in secondary school, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. If it wasn’t for the teachers who inspired me to do so much better, I would have still been trying to find that lost motivation somewhere.

But not everyone is as lucky as I. I didn’t ask for my inspirational teachers but I got them. Some people beg for them but never get them. I plead to this world to stop disregarding effort for lack of skill and knowledge because we are all trying to learn something and do something.

Don’t be the one that takes it away from them.

strength of a thousand worlds

He thought I couldn’t do it.

I threatened to leave many times. I threatened to cut off all ties with him if he ever hurt me again, and every time, I couldn’t do it because I felt like I needed him. I wanted him, even if I had to watch him from afar 7000 miles away.

And many times, I would go back to him because I loved him far too much to completely cut him out of my life like he was nothing.

Even then, he relentlessly hurt me and I forgave over and over again because I wanted him to change and I wanted him to just accept my feelings for what they were instead of treating them like they were nothing more than a whim.

He thought I couldn’t do it.

One day, he hurt me again.

The next day, he apologized for the first time.

I was prepared to leave him but when he apologized, I thought that maybe, maybe he might change and this would work as after all.

We were past lovers who were trying to make it out as friends. It wasn’t going very well because of my feelings for him and because of his insensitivity to my feelings.

I told him that if he hurt me one more time, I would leave. I told him that I was his friend, not his punching bag. I wasn’t around just to let him emotionally abuse me like that. I wanted to help him because he was alone and had no one.

Or so he tried to make it out to be.

Weeks went past quickly.

He told me he was trying to date this girl and wanted a solid relationship with her.

At first, I was surprised because I didn’t know he was seeing someone, somewhat. Then, I felt upset. I had some right, because I loved him and he knew it, and didn’t hesitate to tell me about this wonderful girl he wanted to be with.

I told him I was upset even when I should be happy.

I wanted to leave him. I made the resolve to. I gave him the reasons why I wanted to, and it came down to the fact that he had used me for his own personal, selfish reasons and had allowed me to fall in love even when he didn’t want me to. I was angry that he kept seeing me even when he knew that he had to break my heart one day.

He asked me to stay.

I was the only person he trusted, he said. I never hurt him. I was the only few people who cared about him. He didn’t want to lose me over his pettiness.

But I was so angry.

He wanted me to stay, expected me to be his friend even through the hurt he caused but he told me not to expect anything out of him.

But I said I didn’t care anymore. Do anything you want, I told him.

We didn’t speak for days, until one day I thought about him again and got angry again. Every time my mind goes to him, my thoughts are clouded by this shroud of anger and madness because of how he hurt me and used me.

We fought again.

I told him everything I needed to, everything I’d been keeping inside of me for the past few months.

He threatened to leave me if I kept doing this, kept getting angry for things that happened in the past but these were things that he did to hurt me. I couldn’t forget them as easily as he could since I never hurt him.

He thought I couldn’t do it.

I threatened to leave countless of times but never did it so he threatened to leave me instead.

Then came the last straw.

“I’m going on a date with this girl this weekend. A second date.”

He knew it was my trigger point. He knew how much it upset me before and he used it again to spite me.

To make me jealous.

To shove it in my face.

It was the last straw.

I completely cut him out of my life two minutes later.

I’ve never felt so happy before. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders after cutting this toxic person out of my life.

He thought I couldn’t leave him.

I’m happy I did it.

This was the strength that I was given and I used all of it to leave the one I loved because he hurt me and I wasn’t going to destroy myself just to keep someone who didn’t love me enough to stop hurting me in my life.

I am prideful because I did what he thought I couldn’t.

I am thankful for the strength I garnered for the months that I couldn’t.

This was the strength of a thousand worlds.

the words to my love

I remember meeting you that Saturday afternoon.

You moved so flawlessly and it was insane seeing you for the first time because it was like my world was suddenly filled with colour, contrasting with the black and white that I’d been seeing in the past few months. It was insane and crazy, because I thought that I was only meeting you for the now and not the future.

I remember the things we talked about, from every conversation to every fight we’ve had. They were all important to me. Every single bit of it and every word you said stayed, good and bad but somehow, I can never bring myself to hate you enough to leave you.

We were like children hiding in the bushes and keeping secrets of crushes. We sneaked around like it we were teenagers doing nothing and I still remember the first time that we kissed.

It was on a hot, sweltering Sunday afternoon and we’d spent the morning having coffee, reading a book and then going out to the waterfront where we sat in the shade of a tree talking about things that didn’t matter to us. I remember every word you said, and everything that we talked about because that day was important to me. We took a walk back to my car and had the windows wound down when you turned to look at me with the mysterious look in your eyes.

“Can I kiss you?”

That word itself made me nervous.

We kissed. I still remember everything that I felt that day. Nervous, embarrassed, shy, happy. All of it rolled into one and yet you managed to keep me sane just with those lips. You tasted like the Big Mac you had for lunch, and you were warm, a feeling that meant that we were both alive.

To all the kisses and the ones after that.

I remember when you called me at 10:30 at night just to tell me goodnight. I felt like my mind would explode because no boy had ever put that much effort in for me. I remember when you first held my hand the night of our second date, when you just held me and caressed my skin with your thumb because that’s all you could do while I took the time to get used to it.

You were patient and you were beautiful.

My best memory of you was the day we went to a park the first time and sat side by side reading a book. You smelled so good and when we went to read in the car instead, I thought you were so beautiful. It was insane seeing you read a book because I always thought boy readers were pretty. That same night, we sat at the back of my car and we talked about the stupidest things we could think of.

And then all of a sudden, we started talking about your last relationship, and how she hurt you. Oh, your ex-girlfriend, how she did hurt you so bad that you just broke down and cried in front of me. And it still haunts you to this day, and I know that much. Because when you think about her, all you ever did was let a tear slip to let me know just how much it still affected you.

I remember whispering my insecurities to you, where and why they existed and I remember how you held me as you cried a tear. When I asked why you cried, you said something that made me want to fall in love with you.

“You are just so goddamn pure.”

I knew then that I was falling in love.

We talked about a lot of things. One thing I could never forget was how you told me that you might come back for me. It made me feel loved. It made me feel like maybe, maybe there was something worth living for in this world.

That same night, I remember driving in the dark just the two of us with the music playing so softly and I remember as you held my hand that night. We were quiet. Nothing needed to be said because just being with you made me feel so happy. I remember feeling the europhia that threatened to break me when you looked at me through the flashing lights of the passing cars and this was the moment that I completely let myself to fall in love.

“I’m serious about this.”

And I knew you were. I could see it. I could feel it. And I knew that you were serious about me.

You couldn’t sneak back into base that day and spent the night out in the my car instead until you could call a taxi back to base at 3 in the morning. You asked for a last goodbye kiss before you left for the field for a week.

I missed you.

These were the moments when we were at the prime of what we had. They were special moments that I will never forget. And these are moments that I will remember you by, never for the bad but for the good because of how you made me feel.

You were worth it.

You don’t love me. You don’t like me anymore either, I know that much. I know that I’m not someone you care for anymore because I’m just someone who fell in love with you when you didn’t plan on making anything long-term.

And it’s your fault for allowing it to happen.

I hate you with everything I have. I hate you for not taking responsibility of my love and instead the best you could offer me was a simple, “sorry” because you had nothing else to give me while I had given you my everything.

I never asked for you to love me back, not once did I beg you to love me. But all I wanted was for you to accept my love, instead of pretending that my feelings were nothing more than a whim. I liked you so much that it transcended beyond my understanding and it took me so long to understand what it really was.

All I wanted was for you to smile at me and say that you know how much I love you and you appreciated it.

You knew that I was in love with you before I did. You knew that I was falling hard and you allowed it to happen. You knew that I was in love, but you pretended to be blind to it.

To say that I would stop hating you would be too far out in the future to predict but to say that I won’t would be too spiteful so this would be the words of my goodbye instead.

These are the words of my goodbye to you, my love.

Words that you will never reach you but I hope that you will read one day.

I love you, and I know that I always will even if it might not be the same anymore. I hope that you find what you’re looking for, and I hope that she treats you better than I could and I hope that you treat her better than you did me.

I hope that one day, we may come across each other again in between oceans and continents and in that one day, we’ll both realize how stupid we were.

But don’t fret, my love. I have never regretted a single moment with you because if I did, it would mean to regret falling in love and you were someone I would have crossed oceans for.

Now, you are no longer worth it.

getting your shit together 101

Sometimes, we all need life to knock us down.

It gives us the sense of a reality check, the sense of everything that crashes down on us and it’s important for us to understand that we need that. We need to understand that when life knocks us down, we have to get back up and not continue the same bullshit that caused us to fall before.

We need improvement. Life is always a continuous ravel of improvements that must be made every few days. It’s like going to school and learning something new everyday, or going to work and helping to make a bigger sale than before. Meeting new people everyday. Finally doing something that you couldn’t bring yourself to do before.

Something that helps us improve.

For me, I feel like my life has been in torn shambles these past few months. I’ve been walking on thin ice, about to break down every few minutes or hours in lieu of my father’s death that up until now, I’ve kept blaming all my unhappiness on, and also my breakup with my first boyfriend who has continuously hurt my feelings over and over again.

Just today, I was hurt by him, once again.

But it made me realise something.

This is the last straw. This was the moment that killed and destroyed every ounce of feelings and love I had for this guy because of how many times he had knocked me down, pushed me away and mercilessly rejected my love. He is in no position to return my affections but he is also in no position to treat me as such in cruel, insensitive ways.

I sat against the wall on the floor in my house crying for a whole hour after getting off the phone with him. My ex-boyfriend, my love who I cherished no matter how short our relationship, and he hurt me once again.

It only lasted a whole hour and that was the most that I was going to give him.

Now, I sit on my bed with much resolve.

I listed down on Word of the things I needed to do to get my shit together. The only few reasons why it was hard for me to find love, and why it was hard for my ex-boyfriend to love me was because I had nothing. I had nothing and I needed to get my shit together in order to become this proper woman who has her life together.

My list starts with finishing up assignments at university. They have been long overdue for months. It’s about time I stopped procrastinating and finished them up because I know that they’re not difficult work. They just require more thinking than usual which I absolutely despise.

It’s time to change that.

I am also an aspiring novelist and author. Next down in my list is to finish editing my fully-written novel. Unedited, I needed to have it planned out perfectly, plot lines as well as character development before sending it to a literary agent. My dream is to see my book on every major bookstore shelf, and editing it is the beginning to my dream.

I know what needs to be done but I’m not doing them because I feel like they’re too much and too overwhelming but when I say it out loud, it’s easier than it sounds.

Getting my shit together means that I am becoming a woman who knows what she wants and what she has. It means that I’m finally understanding adulthood in ways that I’ve never understood before. Taking responsibilities and understanding how this world works.

Childish mentalities should no longer be tolerated by myself if I need to get my shit together.

In no way of judging people of these mentalities, I have come up with several pieces of advice for myself to follow, and for others to read and relate.

  • Always, always form connections and acquaintances wherever possible. They may not be your friend, but they will help you in the long run. Others abide by “quality over quantity” but when you pick the right people, you will have quality and quantity alongside with benefit.
  • Don’t let social media dictate your social life. If by all means, a person is toxic on social media, block them or unfollow them. I have done this to many of my friends whom I am still friends with in real life because of their content that I immensely dislike. Social media should not cloud your friendships in person.
  • Don’t let social media dictate your relationships. If a future partner or significant other is jealous over a picture of your ex-partner that you still have on your profile, drop them immediately. In my opinion, exes are memories made and at some point in my relationship, I was happy. I’m not going to delete happy memories off of Instagram just because we are no longer together. Instagram is my memory book and it will stay on there as a memory.
  • Work should not be only a job. I know many people who lead lives working a job with the mentality of “I come to work to do my job and then leave. It’s nothing more than that.” I find this to be a childish mentality because work should not only be a job but a career, otherwise you are leading a miserable life. Even if you are only working a temporary job to sustain a living, you should be doing something that you immensely enjoy, or at least form friendships with co-workers who will respect you in the workplace. It will also give you good graces and opinions should your future job need referrals.

Getting your life together seems like a difficult task. But when you list everything down on paper or computer, it seems small and it seems like you’ve been overthinking it your entire life. Always start with the small things and venture out bigger. Secure a financial future, secure a job, start a family at a right time. Fall in love with the right people.

Don’t take anymore bullshit than you need to.

What you need to do is invest time in yourself. First, take a breather. Relax. Go to the most relaxing cafe and have some coffee to wind down. Do it for maybe two to three days. Go to the gym and let loose.

And then, do what you hate most and finish it.

It’ll feel like you’ve conquered half the world.

When you’ve done what you needed to, go to the second thing on your list. One by one, maximise your concentration.

It’ll work out.

to err is human, to forgive is divine

Every day, I spend some time to read and it fills me with an immense knowledge for everyday things.

The internet is a toxic space, that much, I admit. I am hateful of the company that fills the surroundings and many times, people find validation on the internet only to be disappointed and filled with more remorse than before.

However, in my reading travels online, I came across a post on my favourite forum website, Quora.

It tells of the tale of a man who was in an unrequited love with a girl who he hoped for, and tried to shower his love for her in order for her to fall in love with him and it took him over a year to realize and understand that she will never look at him that way. He was only hurting himself by continuing to pursue her, and that in itself is his fault.

When we pursue someone despite continuous efforts of rejection, we hurt ourselves in the process and it is never the receiver’s fault. They are not obligated to love you.

It is our own.

My mistake in my first and last relationship was putting in 100% before the commitment. I put in my 100%, and I loved him. I loved him to the point that I would have done anything for him, even traveled the world to see him. He was not from here, and we were together for a few short months before he had to leave. He was in no position to be obligated return my affections and I never blamed him for it.

It hasn’t been very long since he left and we last saw each other but I do not want to make the mistake of loving him even when it is clear that there is no hope for us. It is clear that he doesn’t return my love, and he has repeated that multiple times.

I am in denial.

I keep loving him in hopes that he will see how much effort that I put in for him, and realise that I would do anything for him. I wanted him to see that someone was capable of loving him this way, as much as I do, as he lacked affection and company from the people around him. I showed him passion, put in effort and loved him like how I would anyone I wanted to potentially spend my life with.

I wanted him to see his worth.

In turn, it made me forget mine.

I’m glad that I came across this Quora post as it had lit a bulb in my head. It helped me realise that sometimes, we give things up to make room for new, better ones. It made me realise that I deserved better than what he offered me and I was a fool to have thought that he could offer me the world. I was in denial.

Was.

Keyword.

Now, I realised something much more. I realised that it’s better for me to stop chasing after dreams and instead chase a better reality. I deserve someone better, and it took me a while to understand it. I thought that he was that better but I was wrong.

I was hurting myself in a continuous motion. He didn’t love me, and would often talk about his ex-girlfriends by putting them on a pedestal higher than me. He would point out my flaws that he couldn’t deal with and he would be the one who berated me for my lifestyle that I was accustomed to. In many ways, he tried to help me. In more ways than one, he couldn’t accept that kind of person that I was. He wanted me to change for him and it was impossible.

In more ways than one, he wanted someone who was a pushover.

I was opinionated. I was optimistic. I was open. I was none of which he wanted but I made myself available to him because I wanted him no matter the circumstances, the pain and the unrequited love.

That was my mistake.

When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.

I keep this in mind whenever I’m down. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost everything, I remind myself that when life is taken, another will be given. When we lose someone, someone else will come by.

It’s time for me to move on from unrequited love. I was a fool to think and hope that perhaps, I can make him see how much I love him but in turn, he took advantage of that love. He took it, knowing that I wouldn’t say no to anything. He exploited me, and he wanted my love to only be for him without returning mine.

We need to know when we deserve better and when we need to move on. For me, I’m moving on and moving along because I know that now that I’ve lost him, someone else will come into my life and take me.

That is all that I hope for.

It was completely my fault that I got hurt in the process of pursuing unrequited love. This is my punishment and whilst I welcome it with open arms, I accept that I need to forgive myself.

I like to think that he is my first love. I had never felt so much for anyone before in my life and this feeling, I love it. But it’s destructive for both him and I, and I prolonged it for as long as I could just for a few hours of happiness. That was my biggest mistake and I need to learn to forgive myself for it.

To err is human, to forgive is divine.

Forgiving oneself is the most divine intervention they can ever give themselves.

as i sit here

As I sit here in this cafe writing stories of my life, I start to wonder of how my life miraculously came to be.

Sometimes, there are questions that you ask yourself. Things that don’t seem anything out of the ordinary or odd but when you really question them, you start to wonder if it’s by fate or something else that things happen.

I believe in predestination and I believe in fate. I believe that everything has been planned out accordingly for us and all we have to do is follow the path set out because if we stray, we lose who we are.

As I sit here, I wonder how I met the people I did and how they impacted my life. I’ve met people who held me as I cried over grief and loss, I’ve met people who smiled when I told them jokes as part of my daily humor and I’ve met people who negatively impacted me to the point of bad consequences.

These people, no matter how big or small, affected me as a person and as I sit here, I start to realise that they shaped me as a person and how I came to be.

I once thought I was in love, a long time ago. In turn, it made it hard for me to let go of him even when we barely knew each other all too well and in turn, it made me difficult to love anyone for years. My standard for boys became too high that I turned anyone and everyone away, comparing him to them. It made it hard for me to find anyone I could call my significant other.

As I sit here in this cafe writing this three years later, I can only say that I fell in love once again, for the first time since him. Only this time, it’s real love and not one that was fantasized out of what I knew of him.

This new person in my life doesn’t return my affections but he claims to equally care as much for me. I love him as I could someone I potentially wanted to spend my life with but his happiness comes first to me, and if he’s happy with being just my friend then I will be just as happy. I believe that he belongs in my life better like this than to completely lose him over my selfishness to keep him to myself.

He shapes part of what I do with my life.

My happiness is co-dependent on him among other things, and he makes me want to be a better person. Granted there are traits about him that I immensely dislike, I learn to ignore the bad of the people around me and instead focus on their good because one or two bad traits do not make a person bad. Their worth is more than what we think when we look down on them.

This is what shapes me as a person. I choose and learn to appreciate the good in people because that’s how we should live our lives; as someone who sets out an example to appreciate the goodness in people than the bad.

As I sit here in this cafe, I think about my friends whom I’ve never met in my life. I have known them for three years, and I know that three years ago, I was at my prime.

A girl I’ve known since she was fourteen, lives in the USA and she has had meaningful and important conversations with me about political movements across the world. Her knowledge transcends that of her age and it inspires me to want to know more, to remain knowledgeable and that there is no limit to what we can learn. She in more ways than one, reminds me that there is nothing to stop me from doing what I can and want.

My best friend who resides in Croatia, whose journey from his first year of college to his graduation continuously supports me in ways that while it holds no meaning in my life, it molds me to remain true and never lose myself. He keeps me real and grounded, to always remember my roots and to never forget what I was before. He never listens to my rants about boys, he was bad at listening about my pleas for help in lieu of my father’s death and he loves talking about himself but despite everything, he is someone that understands me as I understand him.

And we fit together like peas and carrots.

The people around us shapes us in ways if we just think about it.

As I sit in here in this cafe, my mind wanders to things that don’t seem significant to others but they are to me. People are significant no matter how big or small because they influence our minds, actions and personality. They shape and mold us to become what we are, and it’s often up to us to decide how we take the impact they make on our lives.

I appreciate the comings and goings of the people around me and as anyone should, they should equally appreciate life as it is and see the good side to people instead of the bad.

We live a full life when we make people feel good about themselves for the things that they are rather than the things they are not because that’s what makes them appreciate you as much.

taking control of my life

I realised many things the day my father died.

One, I lost everything and two, my life was going to spiral out of control.

Both of which are true, and both of which made me fall into this pit of potential depression. I admit one thing; I had thought about death many times since then. And I always asked myself what would happen if I was gone, because we rarely imagine how life would be without us.

Would it be better or for the worse?

I digress.

I lost control of many things in my life the day my father died. I lost control of my emotions as I sit on the bathroom floor pleading for help in silence. I lost control of the way I acted around people, from being the person who always told the truth to everyone no matter how harsh, to being the person who accepted things and remained patient no matter how cruel the world was.

Many times, I find myself staring at nothing, wondering how all this came to be. I see nothing in the future that is worth living for anymore, and I think about giving up on my family several times as well. But I know I cannot, because they depend a lot on me for many things.

At twenty years old, I’m made to make calls to insurance companies, handle simple visa matters for relatives, made to deal with much and it suffocates me. I admit this much, and I know this much. I know that it stresses me out to the point that I’m tired of life now.

I feel like my life is spiraling out of control, and fast.

I fell in love, and as quickly as I did, he was quick to say he didn’t return my affections.

One of the reasons he admitted to, I can’t love someone who doesn’t love herself.

And it’s true, I don’t. I hate the person I’ve become in the short months since my father’s death but I refuse to keep blaming his death for everything that’s happened in my life. I refuse to let it be the reason that I’m failing.

I’ve always wanted to do many things, and I’ve never gotten around to it even before he died. I cannot be blaming him for things that I couldn’t do before and now. I cannot keep blaming him for the rest of my life. He is at rest, and he deserves the peace.

I’m taking back the control in my life. Even when times feel like I’m losing control, I need friends to remind me that I’m in control and it’s my life. I have perfect control over everything. I just need to start somewhere.

For me, I shouldn’t start with the people around me. I don’t have to make them happy or put them first.

For me, I need to start with myself and put myself first. I need to try and be a better person not for others, but for myself.

I’ve always been self-conscious of my appearance, weight and other small things and it’s time I took care of it.

I started coming up with a skincare routine; washing my face twice a day with facial, face masks once a day everyday, night cream and day cream. All of it essential to getting good skin.

My diet has always been a problem. Fast food and instant noodles are part of my daily diet, and that needs to change. I drink soda and soft drinks more than I do water, and it’s affecting my health that I can feel it.

Taking back control of your life doesn’t always mean getting your shit together straight away like in the movies. It means to improve that version of yourself to become something better, and to keep improving until you’re someone that you’re happy with. It means that you’re doing something with what you have instead of letting them crumble down to waste. It means amidst the support of family and friends, you’re heeding the advice that you’re given and accepting that help is essential in this part of your life.

I do not have depression. I know that I don’t, but sometimes, I feel like I go through this depression stage that makes it hard to explain.

But I want to take it away, to improve and take back control of my life that spiraled out of control so quickly.

I miss my life seven months ago when my father was still alive. Seven months without him felt like seven years. I cried daily for the first four, and in the last three, I met someone whom I fell in love with, who pulled me out of depression. He did not cure my depression, but he helped me understand that there is more to life than just sadness and darkness.

Granted, he sometimes contributes to my depression stage, he tries to help in small ways. He thinks that I don’t appreciate them but I do. I appreciate them, and it makes it hard to not love even more but that’s how I deal with unrequited love. I don’t try to appreciate something that isn’t meant to be as such.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Never be afraid to speak out to someone you know would listen. Never fail to understand that you don’t always have to confide in best friends. Never forget that strangers are better listeners than friends. Never forget that you are not alone.

It starts with yourself and how you look at life.

I’m taking back control of my life by starting to improve myself in ways that I never had before. Take care of yourself and you start to realise that difference it makes, the confidence it adds, the esteem that you needed.

What other people think or want doesn’t matter because it doesn’t help you. Let them help you help yourself, and that’s the furthest that they can go to help you.

For me, everything starts with what I want.

experiences

We meet strangers who come and go, some who stay longer and some whom we truly connect with. These people are what makes us who we are, and they help us define the kind of person who choose to be.

Through experiences, I have met many who shaped the person I am today, and I am still being molded into a perfect form. I am nowhere near but I aim to get there one day.

Some of the people who come into our lives change us in ways that we never expect, and sometimes, we have to let go of them.

Like everyday in our lives, I met someone who made quite an impact in the short period of time he was in my life. We only knew each other for three months, and in those months, he changed my life in ways that I had never expected him to.

I fell in love for the first time.

It seems impossible to fall in love so quickly, but I know that it is love. It is not infatuation or lust, and it is real.

It was an experience of a lifetime, one that truly took much out of me. I received nothing in return, and I don’t want anything but to keep feeling this love. Loving with the expectation of being loved back is a waste of time because love is about appreciation, not possession.

We had a blissful few months together, and now, he goes home to America.

Sadness would be the best way to describe my feelings now. I cried telling him that I didn’t want him to leave no matter how much I knew he wanted to. I know that I will miss him but I know that I appreciated him enough through our time together to make it last a lifetime.

Our experiences together, the journey and adventures we undertook do not go in vain as I remember all of them perfectly like the back of my hand. I remember the memories like they happened yesterday and that is all I need to understand that I need to let him go.

Three weeks ago, I had a last date with him. It was the last day that we were going to officially be boyfriend and girlfriend, and it was blissful. It was the expected expiration date that we were waiting for. We knew that we would come to an end and we did. Oh, how we knew and we did everything we could think of in that one date to make it the best date.

Yesterday, it was the last time we saw each other and we parted goodbye as friends instead of lovers.

I still feel the lingering sadness in me. It bothers me and I want to take this pain away but I know taking the pain would mean forgetting and I want none of that. This was the best few months of my recent months and I appreciate him for doing what he did.

What did he do exactly?

Almost seven months ago, my father died unexpectedly from an accident.

It left me emotionally scarred and traumatized, and I could feel myself falling into a pit of depression that I never had before. I had wanted to give up on school, work, life and family. It was the worst few months of my life and I prayed to God to give me someone who could help me through this.

A week later, I met him.

He pulled me out of this depression stage that I was in, and he taught me to get back up on my own two feet. These experiences that he offered me made realise that there was still more to life than just the past. There was the now, and there was the future.

And I was perfectly in control of all of it.

I fell in love for the first time.

He took my breath away when he kissed me for the first time. I remember the first time he held my hand and smiled at me through the dark in the twilight. He made me smile in a way that I hadn’t for months in lieu of my father’s death. I never wanted any of it to end.

But now, we are friends and that’s the best thing that he can do for me now as I fix myself.

Learning to love myself is a step forward. Learning to take back control of my life is another. Learning to plan for my future is the next. Learning to love another would be the last.

I still love him through this breakup and I don’t hate him for telling me that he doesn’t love me back because I understand that love is relative and uncontrolled.

We saw each other for the last time yesterday. We said our forever goodbyes, smile without tears not because it’s over but because it happened. Accept that we will never be but forever remember that we were once.

My experience with him changed my life.

I fell out of potential depression, took back control of my life, laughed for the first time in months, did new things, and fell in love.

Experiences change who we are and it shapes us to be the person of our destiny.

I’m still finding my destiny, but I know that he helped me realise that I’m more than what I think I am and that my destiny is far bigger than what I thought.

I’m still finding my purpose and the universe works ways to help us find it.

grief and loss

Here’s a story that I never forget, of a time long ago witnessed by yours truly.

I was young, unknowing and at that age, completely clueless of the world around me. As someone who was protected by the world, I sought to discover much on my own only to be taught that this world is not always rainbows and sunshine.

Over a decade ago, I was with family. At the shopping mall just minutes from our house by train, we were roaming around and browsing through shops like little tourists on vacation. There was much shopping to be done.

I stood outside a store, waiting for my parents to come out when I see a little girl, much younger than I was, running out a store. She trips and falls flat on her face. She stays there for a few seconds and looks like she’s going to cry.

Her father comes up to her, stands beside her and without bending down or crouching to be at eye level with her, he only extends his hand down to her with two simple words uttered.

Get up.

To me, they’re as simple as they can get.

Without another word, the little girl grabs her father’s hand and together, they walk off hand-in-hand.

A simple lesson was taught to her that day.

When life knocks you down, you get back up.

Simple, but effective.

I was taught to be independent from an extremely young age. I was taught to do things on my own without expecting help from anyone else but what about grief and loss?

What should be done to help me get back up on my feet?

Loss is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone because of the underlying meaning behind it.

Loss means forever.

This April, I loss my father in an accident. He died as quickly as it happened, unknowing to me a week before it did that I would be fatherless.

I grieved for months.

Grief helps us cope with loss but what does coping really mean? Is it means of forgetting or accepting?

I questioned that for a long, long time.

Given my work and occupation as a student, I was given a lot of encouragement and love from colleagues and teachers but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t ready to get back into the field and I wasn’t happy with how things were as opposed to before.

I blamed my unhappiness and failures in the past five months on my father’s death. And I kept doing it because I was unable to be strong and to cope.

How do I get back up on my feet?

Grief and loss turned me into a moody, lifeless person. I once had the world in my eyes and all that was left is now emptiness and sorrow.

I had almost wanted to give up on life, work, school and family.

I prayed for a different outcome in life.

To give and receive, to be given life when one was taken.

In turn, I was taken on this whirlwind of journey with someone who showed me what life truly meant from a different perspective.

What was it about this person who gave me meaning to keep on going, to live as life has offered me and to do best rather than do enough? He showered me with compliments, crude advice, and drove me to insanity before bringing me back down to help me understand that I was strong enough to handle it.

Today, I no longer grief and blame loss for many things.

I realize the control I have over my own life and it was a great portion of it.

When I wake in the morning, instead of feeling anguish and sadness, I’m filled with the drive to do something greater. Instead of expecting hope and happiness to drop onto my lap, I strive for it.

How did I cope with the grief and loss?

I let someone into my life and he pulled me out of my depression state. He showed me his side of the world and I showed him mine.

To be protected from the world, from its losses had made me weak. It had taken my energy and brought me down but one person pulled me back up onto my feet.

Today, I have accomplished much more than I had hoped for in the past score of my life.

With this loss that I had felt, it had made me stronger with the help of someone who made me realize what life was truly about. He, who helped me understand the future and he, who taught me how to think for my own.

He, who helped me grief over loss of family while learning to stand up from it.

If I had to do the same with my children, I would do what my own parents did to me. I would protect them from the world, raise them to be independent and knowledgeable.

Before releasing them into the wild.

the unknown sea

In my travels to become a writer, I’ve come across so many people from different walks of life that help me understand that this world works in strange ways.

I’ve often questioned the stories of people, those untold soliloquies that they hide under their facade for the public, and most of the time, they end up being stories that you least expect. They have stories of their past, hidden truths all that if asked, would be revealed to us.

All we have to do is listen to their voices.

Time, is of essence. Time, in its own way, teaches us lifelong lessons that bring the best or the worst out of us. It gives us the opportunity to learn and create knowledge that help shape ourselves and the future.

Three years ago, I traveled four hours from the heart of the city in Western Australia down South towards a popular tourist destination.

I sat in the backseat while my parents are up front, enjoying the fresh, cool Autumn air from the unwound window. The radio plays a song on repeat for the past hour but it’s Adele, courtesy of my mother’s playlist.

“Why did you choose to come to this place, out of many places?”

My father’s question never fails to make me wonder myself.

I’d heard of the place only from someone that I once thought I loved. I traveled from Singapore to Australia, thinking that I might be given the opportunity to see him. My heart was instead broken but I remember his words clearly that still resonates within me.

You should go to Margaret River. It’s my favourite place on Earth.

At that point, all I wanted to do was just go there and see the place for myself.

The journey was long, lengthy but comfortable. I was traveling to a place that seemed like it would have been worth the time.

I was not disappointed.

Quaint would have been the best word to describe the town that we stepped foot. It was quiet, simple and more than not, extremely small. It was the town that you knew everyone knew everyone, and even its name — Dunsborough — gave off the impression that it was tiny European style town with two supermarkets, a Target and other miscellaneous shops.

We walked along the town from one end to the other in under an hour. It wasn’t big, to begin with and we didn’t stop anywhere much because the shops were mostly closed by then. Our journey had started early in the morning and we had arrived later than expected.

What was so great about this town?

What made it his favourite place on Earth?

It was a question that I pondered on for days, weeks, years. I couldn’t comprehend what was it about that town that entranced me. Was it the scenic view, the fresh smell of air or was it the friendly people who smiled at me wherever I went?

The answer came to me soon enough.

I realised that this was the life that I wanted. Simple, away from the city and quaint. It was quiet, peaceful and nature surrounded us to the extent of caves being a thirty minute drive away.

While I was there, we visited underground caves, lighthouses that separated two oceans and even then, it was enough for me to be convinced that this was my favourite place on Earth too.

The unknown sea, that lighthouse that changed my perspective on this world remains to be ingrained deep in my mind. Its waves that crash so magnificently ring in my ears and the smell of sea breeze continues to invade my nostrils as though I was just there yesterday.

I fell in love with the sea that day.

The dark, grainy waters that could envelope a ship whole and eat it still. The view so vast I could manage to look from one end of the sea to the other and still find myself searching for the edge of the world. I fell in love with the sound that I once feared and this made me understand so much more about the person that I believed to have once loved. What he loved, became what I loved.

My love was not affected by my affections for him, but I understood him enough to understand why he loved it.

His untold soliloquy remains a mystery but I know one thing: I understand his love for a place that I grew to equally love.

An unknown sea.