22

The day I turned 22, I realised that a lot of things have changed.

I realised that as I sat in the same living room with someone I tried to date not once, but twice, and how platonic it sat between the both us came the certainties of our relationship. I realised that while we weren’t together, we were in this together — how he took care of my heart when it was broken by other people over the course of almost a year that I’ve known him and how he searches for ways for me to leave toxic, co-dependent relationships around me. He takes care of me in ways that I crave but without the romantic attachments and I realise that I found a gem when I thought I lost one prior to meeting him.

I realised as I sat in the same car with a potential love interest that meeting people outside social media and dating apps is possible. The first and definitely not the last. As we sat listening to music and talking about nothing important in particular, I realised that relationships transcend beyond appearances, age and time. Being 13 years older than me had no effect and he certainly did not make me feel small for my age in comparison to his. He smiles when I say something outside of our generation gap and when we clash, he smiles because he accepts his age and I accept mine. The understanding that nothing will ever happen between us stands clear in our relationship and when we both understood it, neither of us broke each other’s hearts.

I realised when I sat in the same room with my family that we break apart but we don’t abandon each other. We seek for our own personal space and companionship and if it means finding ourselves by ourselves, then we do it. I realised that if it meant sacrificing our own sakes for the sake of others then so be it.

I realised how much I’ve grown. Over this quarantine period, I’ve almost sent text messages to my ex-boyfriends and I stop myself — a feat almost impossible in the months before I turned 22. This is the growth that I didn’t think I needed, the path to another form of redemption for myself because of the things I did and hardships I put myself through over the last few years. I had always tried to go back to toxic relationships and this time around, I have the strength and discipline to tell myself that I deserve better than someone who doesn’t want to be with me.

22 is the age of luck, at least to me. It reminds me that as we grow older, we grow up and make better decisions. It reminds me of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned over the last years. I wish I could describe the things I’d learned from the start to the finish but it wouldn’t be enough to express my feelings and the journey I’d undertaken.

I’m excited for 23.

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.

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.