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.

be you or be your better?

I’ve spoken to many people in my life, many of which suffered from an envy-syndrome that drove them insane out of their minds. It was a mix of anguish, indistinguishable from failure with envy of the people better than them.

I quote some lines from a writer whom I haven’t heard of till the point I’d seen his quote which changed my life for most part of it;

“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”

It is by far one of the most surreal quotes I have ever seen because it seems too good to be true, one of which I couldn’t believe was so relatable but yet, at the same time, happening all over the world. It is insane, on most of its part not because of its contents but because of its veracity that it is actually happening in real time.

However, mostly revolving around the lives of the people around me, I become aware that they are too consumed by this need in them to prove themselves better than a person better than them. It is not by their subconscious that they are aware of their doing but it is a human need to establish the alpha-mode on that certain something.

My friend, whom I had met online and am still in good communications with him even though we live two continents away, suffer from depression. I understand his situation no matter how much I have never experienced it, but we were deep in a conversation earlier on today about how weird it is to hear someone call our names only to be meant as someone else.

He then tells me that he’s used to it – used to having people call his name only to mean someone else because there was once another person of the same name who was the on basketball team in his school, a straight-A student in his AP classes and had been president of several clubs.

I noticed the envy in the tone of my friend’s, one that dripped with so much jealousy it wasn’t easy to hide – a need to prove and be better than the other person. He admitted to wanting to be president of the clubs he was part of, wanting to get straight As in his AP classes and just wanted to be the one people meant when they called his name just so he could be better.

To him, it was an envious feeling of someone who was better than him.

To me, it seemed like someone who only wanted to better the other person out of spite.

It seems that we are all so obsessed with trying to be someone who is better than us in many aspects – an idol, as most would say – but it is not what we are most of the time. My friend, whose name shan’t be revealed, hated the idea of being himself. Despised and disgusted by the aspect of being who he was because he was unable to find something he was good at comparable to society’s needs and standards.

I reached out to him from afar, telling him that there is no point trying to be someone he was not. People are different in more ways than one.

Why do we spend so much time trying to be the person we are not when we can spend our time doing the things we are good at? We shouldn’t try to apply our skills that we had separately learned from our upbringing to the same thing that the other person had learned from a different upbringing.

My main point is this; it is better for us that we accept ourselves as who we are, no matter how much we are embarrassed of it. Why, some people ask?

I had done a social poll once, a long time ago on a social networking website; Twitter – regarding our self-reflection of the kinds of people that we all were.

I had asked, “Would you want your child(ren) to be the exact same kind of person that you are now?”

I had not expected many to vote no because of how people were so confident in the things they said or did without much remorse or thought, but it showed one thing that made me certain: People, especially teenagers and young adults, are not happy with who they are because they know they can do better than what they are doing now.

The question is how? Or even so, why?

I had always told people to be proud of who they were even if others may try to bring them down emotionally and mentally. It is a good idea to live by but sometimes, I take my words back. I do it in circumstances where it seems apparent that the person could do better than what they were.

Some people, those who are not emotionally as strong, like my friend who had thought that he was not good at a single thing because he spent half his life trying to be another person who wasn’t a single bit like him and stronger in other aspects, was and are pressured into thinking that something considered popular or within societal norms are the only things that are important when it is not true at all. He was pressured into thinking that what he was wasn’t enough to fit into what we considered “socially acceptable” and as a result, could not get over his depression.

He could do better than aiming for someone who was diagonal to the person that he was. He could do better than someone who was just as capable as he was, only that he refused to embrace who he was. The most important thing was; he barely knew who he was in the first place.

To me, knowing who you are is always the most important step to success because you know what you’re supposed to do to achieve what is most reachable for yourself, rather than reach for something that is already in someone else’s hand. I have had many experiences of trying to be someone I wasn’t, many of which I had failed in. But I take no regrets in the time I had spent because they were footsteps to leave and show me that I wasn’t ready or that I wasn’t meant to be. It pushed me beyond my limits and reach for something that I could do – writing.

Never in the entirety of my life have I ever looked into the bowl of achievements of someone else in jealousy, but rather in good will. I took it as the motivation that if he or she was capable of doing something, so was I. I never took it as a stepping stone to try and challenge someone who was already good at what they were, because what if I had failed? It would only bring me down and convince myself that I was not good in anything.

Our desire to become our better is a distraction for who we really are. We do not become our better – we are empowered by our better. I am empowered by a Malaysian writer who used to be an average girl three years ago, and over the course of her writing and aspirations, she now writes columns for a Malaysian newspaper online. I do not plan to write columns for newspapers nor do what she does, but I take it to heart that if she is capable of doing something that can inspire the minds of many, that I can do it too. I convince myself that I can become the writer and author of many books, and to add a bit of fun to my bucket list; possibly write an article for TIME magazine.

People confuse their betters as someone to compete with rather than someone to be inspired by. To be in a situation as such is compromising and difficult to get out of, especially when your mind challenges you to such desires because you never want to stop. To me, stop and think what you’re really doing and if the success of being better than your better is worth it, because once you do, you stop because you’ve accomplished what you need to without the passion of it but rather in the spite.

Always, always remember that everyone is different, but our betters are who make us the people we are because they push us into doing what we need to, rather than what we want to and it is them who will always look into our bowls to see if we have enough, rather than to see if they have as much or more than us.

And never forget it.

The Past, Present and Future

My past has always been a shadow of the being that I am today. Regardless, I learned from it well despite the fluctuations of fortune as well as problems that arose in between then and now.

When I was younger, I took pride in the thought ingrained in me that I was the only one who mattered and that I came first before anyone else. It was a mentality that grew from habit fitly from my being the last child and daughter between my parents who pampered me much more as opposed to the harsher conditions that my two older sisters had to endure due to the early years of my parents young marriage and simple wealth.

Reading in between the lines, I was not prepared for what laid ahead of my years when I stepped into primary school at 7 years old. I learned from the good and the bad, meeting different people from different walks of life but as I was young then, I still hadn’t quite thought about things not pertaining to me too much. Throughout the years, I grew to learn the people who were good for me made me know who I wanted to be. I grew up to meet newer people who stood by me in circumstances that I had once stood alone and I met people who had a greater influence on my life.

Now in the present, the same people remain but it was, however, quickly decided that I store the ones I had met and are good people but bad for me somewhere untouchable yet reachable whenever necessary. Strong words, harsher life. I live in the moment of the present, as how I am writing this article now but as each minute passes, I grow wiser than I was before because of the thoughts that enter my mind as I think about the next chapter in life.

My present is ever-changing, because of the people who come and go easily but where does it lead me – how does it affect my future?

The future is unwise to predict. As I always say to those who question the future, that it is always better to strive for what you want but never expect that it should happen lest it fails.

It is, however, expected that the future will continue to persist as will time but what is our future? We think so selfishly for ourselves that we forget that we will not live forever.

I was, yet again, walking down the streets in the city when I witnessed an elderly man in his 60s beside a young woman of about her late 30s walking. And holding her hand was a child – presumably her son. They walked past me without a simple glance in my direction, one of which I was not bothered by, but it was however, in that moment, that I realised something befitting.

The epiphany came instantly.

That child will be our future, as how the other children of this generation will. They are the kings and queens of the future because when the time comes for us to grow as old as the elderly man in our later years, we step down to allow the younger generation to become the kings and queens.

My conclusion is simple and comes in two forms; Our parents are the past, we are the present and our children are the future. Our parents were the kings and queens once, we are the kings and queens now and our children will be the queens and queens in the future.

As I write this, my thoughts stray to another – how will the future of the people around me fair? How will my future of my own child be when my future is his present?

I am, by all means, stricken by the ideology that we are consumed by our own lives, too engrossed in the insight of our businesses that we don’t understand the veracity of the truth; we never stop to worry about the future of the others around us. We live in the moment, the present as how it is, with the people we are with, rather than stop to share our plans with someone we don’t know.

Our lives are intertwined and each day, we share our future with different people as how we did our past and do our present but we never notice because we are only consumed by ourselves.

You never know that the man sitting next to you on the train could be professor of one of your classes in university, or that he could be the man who saves your life when you’re in a dire need of help. We share our moments only with ourselves but never together, only focusing on individualism that should, while exist, coexist with others.

The past, present and future are ours, but we should share it between ourselves while we are still the kings and queens of our time. When we allow the next generation to take the world on, we are no longer but followers of their reign as they take on positions that once used to be ours.

My past has always been a shadow of my being today, but my future will always be good because of the things I’ve learned the hard way before. I stand now in this time and moment with the hands of only a few beside me but as time progresses, perhaps more will be there or less will but it is always good to share my future with someone I perceive to be good for me, no matter the time or place.

Looking At The Bigger Picture: Untold Soliloquies

I’ve always looked upon others with a simple question; why?

To a person unknown to me, it would seem bitter and heartless but from my perception, it seeks out the truth from what I only see. Looking at the bigger picture, I see what actions say as opposed to the words that only speak little.

My life has a single meaning to it; to strive for what I want despite the setbacks of anything and everything – but what does it mean to others? What do the lives of others mean to me? In all of honesty, very few people have a special place where I keep them but it matters not because there will always be space for others.

Albeit, looking at the bigger picture of my meets in life, I have become wary of allowing a significant number of people into my life but only because I have lost more than I can imagine. The lives of the people who were once very dear to me are now lost souls – living or dead – but lost, nonetheless.

The bigger picture is this; caution is what I keep by me always.

Everyone you meet has a story – be it a sad one, depressing, happy or tragic – we are all entitled to our own story. However, as strangers who pass you everyday, we are unaware of their bigger picture, the one that hides all truth and only speaks through words. We are, by our subconscious, ignorant and nonchalant to the likes of others who do not matter to us.

So this article is mainly, for those who have stories untold and unread.

I was walking down the streets in the city once when I stopped to watch a young man in a suit offer a bedraggled elderly woman in tattered clothes some money. To the public eye, they could only come to two conclusions; the man is kind and the woman is homeless.

It was, however, only a general statement. I stood where I did and asked one simple question; why? 

Why was the man so kind, and why was she homeless? In these situations do we look upon the words and stories not spoken and ask the questions about the people who do not matter to us. Many looked on the woman, some offering her money without giving her another glance but have many wondered why was she placed in such a predicament?

The life of the elderly woman is of no concern to me, but her bigger picture was, however, a question. The young man, suited and seemingly well-off, took thirty seconds off from his busy day to dig into his pocket for small notes of cash to offer to a woman who mattered not to him.

Why?

Did he at one point of time feel and experience life the way the woman did, or was he brought up to understand the hard work that had brought him where he was today? Was he, by any chance, a kind man not by oppression from society and parents but by choice and past experience?

These lives are the ones with stories untold from the start. Soliloquies that only they themselves understand.

We come to the general conclusion of situations when we know not of the truth behind every action and every word. We do not choose to see what is not shown because it is easier to not question why when the people involved do not matter to us. We do not question for reasoning but yet choose to come to a conclusion only obvious to the public eye.

I have spent days alone enough to think of what it means to understand the meaning of the bigger picture. It is as often, hidden by nature or sometimes by choice, but hidden mostly because vulnerability is threatened. Exposing your story can cause both positive and negative reactions – both to be expected from human nature – but just because it is hidden does not mean one does not question it.

We are too engrossed with our own lives to bother knowing the lives of others but with every step, you pass the chance of knowing a different story as how you pass strangers without questioning the simple question of why?

I have, by all means, discovered the true meaning to my life ever since I underwent a ten-minute talk about differences and bigger pictures, courtesy of my father whom I had learned from to accept and understand people from different walks of life. It is by this discovery, that I understood why I do what I do.

This larger insight on a person’s life is more than stories that changes a person, even if it does not matter to you. I could have walked away the day I saw the suited man and elderly lady but instead, I chose to stay and watch because it changed what I thought about the people around me. I was given a chance to question a man’s actions and a woman’s well-being because without it, I would have not understood what it meant to be in both their shoes.

Both their lives may not have mattered to me, as how I would not have mattered to them but the bigger picture, however, intertwines us all into a story in itself.

And we must always question the story.