There’s a sense of new hope as I woke on the final day of 2015. The arbitrary calendar date somehow offers a symbolic permission to unload all the dread and anxiety I’ve carried on my shoulders this year. Despite the grand intentions set at the beginning, there were parts of the year that were just fucking miserable. Truth is in 2015, I reached one of my lowest points in life where there seemed to be nothing but self-loathing, denial, irresponsible self-destructive indulgence, self-doubt, and depression. And it was all my fault.
The lows made me fail to acknowledge the great events and achievements: moving out of the family home, volunteering for lifeline, managing chaos at work, remaining inspired in early childhood education and spreading the love, trying pole, discovering Kizomba, meeting new people and connecting with old friends, eating relatively well, pulling off graduation and making a crowd of parents cry, visiting Southeast Asia and seeing Ang Kor Wat…
Even as I go to list these events, my mind is constantly pulled to magnify the failures: the broken hearts, the harsh words, the let downs, the apathetic absences, the irresponsible inconsistencies, and the inability to remain committed to anything………
Ugh! I need an upgrade. I need to reprogram my brain so that the lens I see through, the words I use, the goals I set, and the way I connect with people are authentic, graceful, and nourishing for the soul.
2016 will be a humbling (yet ass-kicking) year for learning, looking inwards and increasing the frequency of my vibrations! I can do this. I have to. I will.
Truth be told, I was quite scared to be in Sydney on this day. So I planned a holiday, to hide from all that’s messed up in my life this year. Mess, that I didn’t want to face, didn’t want to deal with.
For me, birthdays have always been a time for reflection. Naturally I’m forced to really evaluate all that’s happened since my last birthday. Yes I’ve made questionable choices this year. I’ve been isolating myself and pushing friends away. I’ve been less than honest at times and have allowed negative emotions to ride me down destructive paths.
Yet when I finally face all the things that hurt and accept the darkness as a part of what makes up the whole, I’m able to see clearer. This year has been a blessing. A year of change and immense growth. Moving away from the family house and discarding their belongings, challenging myself with a new role at work, picking up (and giving up) pole dancing, volunteering for lifeline, falling in love with Kizomba, and finally travelling to South East Asia… Goals were set and completed, I learnt, I grew, I’d like to say for the better.
I’ve been lucky. There was a time when I was falling. So much that getting out of bed became a problem on weekends. Yet a couple of weeks into that, renovations for the apartment upstairs began. There was drilling, hammering, loud enough to vibrate the walls. It physically pained me and pushed me outdoors, where sunshine and nature saved me by giving me enough motivation to start saving myself. Transition that pushed me back up.
It hasn’t been the easiest year, yet when I reflect back, I am humbled and amazed by all the people that have given me their time to connect with me. If it weren’t for the people who helped me move, I would be in way over my head and drowned in my family’s things. If it weren’t for the genuine smiles and conversations that happened throughout the year, my soul would have shrivelled.
So I’m grateful for all the people who have made the effort to share moments with me. To you it may have been a simple drink, or meal, or just a conversation in passing; but it may have been powerful enough to charge my faulty battery, carrying me to the next day.
For all the people who have connected with me deeper, I’m so grateful for the depth you’ve allowed yourself to go with me. I’ll admit I can be a pretty intense person, so thank you for fulfilling that craving to intertwine on an emotional, mental, or spiritual level.
For all the people who have shared a dance or two with me, please know that each dance is truly appreciated. It’s become such an important, uplifting part of my life. Thank you for making that possible!
As for all the mess that I’ve been in…. Well, I’ve come around to recognise it as character building. So all in all, a very valuable year. I just hope this next one doesn’t require as much struggle.
When was the last time you thought about respecting someone’s rights?
In this privileged life we lead, there are many rights that are enshrined in the modern society. The right to freedom, safety, fairness, and so on. On that larger scale, it seems like common sense. Of course we need to be free to think what we want and believe what we like; be protected from discrimination and harm; as well as be respected with privacy and ownership of possessions (United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights)(and yes I’m aware there are many places in this world where these rights are still fought for, another story for another time).
But what if I’m not talking about the ideology and the society – what if we look at the micro, personal level? How then, do these rights play in our daily interactions with one another?
We all do a great job of respecting strangers, but what about the people you love? How often do you ignore their right to freedom of thought and attack them on their views?
We all know to not physically harm others, but what about emotional harm? Do emotional blackmails and bullying count as a form of torture?
We all say we respect the privacy of others, but why then, do we feel a sense of entitlement to our friends/families/partners personal belongings or stories?
Yes the declaration was written with the larger picture in mind, wording it for the foundation of peace, freedom, and justice in humanity. But if we can all practice a bit of respect for these rights for those we love, wouldn’t it then ripple out to affect the larger society?
Perhaps the next time I feel entitled to certain privileges, I need to remember to respect other peoples rights too… When I disagree with someone’s POV; when I get mad at my partner; when I want to pry a secret out of my friend…
Be the change you want to see. I would like to be more respectful for the people around me, and the bigger society.
Half way through a suicide prevention workshop, it hit me hard. An immense sadness, that in this age of digital convenience, people can still feel so alone. We are but one call, one text, one message away from talking to someone; yet we don’t reach out. These actions seem so simple, yet the mental energy needed and the emotional preparation involved can be so overwhelming that we end up feeling there’s no one to turn to.
We may go as far as putting out cryptic messages that are disguised cries for help… In the hopes that someone would notice. Someone would answer. What then, if no one comments. What then, if no one asks? Will that escalate the emotions, the loneliness, the hopeless helplessness?
An alarming, confrontational afternoon of self-reflection. How can I help? What can we do to prevent someone from falling through the cracks?
It may be as simple as asking someone if they are alright. Yet in our oh-so-busy lives, how can we become more aware, more sensitive to the signs? And when we notice, how then, do we muster the courage to be the person who asks the direct questions? Are we too presumptuous or intrusive? After today, I think, it is worth risking someone thinking I should mind my own business. Having the courage to be too nosey is better than regretting a lack of action.
It may also be, that there aren’t noticeable signs. What can we do then? How are we presenting ourselves in our every day lives? Do people feel that we are approachable? Do they think we will understand and listen without judgement?
So much to learn. So much more to critically reflect and improve on.
Yet I wonder: what if we all throw out the intention that “I WANT TO LISTEN”? It doesn’t matter if we are close, estranged, acquaintances or related. If someone needs a sounding board, if they need a listening ear, they should be able to find one.
Just so you know – there’s one right here, my friends. You can always talk to me.
I’m not a sentimental person. Certainly after the great move of 2015, my attachment for material things have reached a new low. Yet when it came to Chinese New Years, I had a strong desire to fly home and spend it with family – not really what people expect of me, apparently.
It’s not like our family REALLY gets into it. We gather, we feast, there’s a few red pockets exchanged, and we feast some more… But apart from that we don’t follow too many traditions. We drive to the temple and pray to our ancestors, that’s about it.
The time we spend together is mostly for discussing what we’re going to eat; eating and exclaiming how delicious this food is; complaining how very over-stuffed we are; and of course, excitedly brainstorming what we’re eating next. We’re not the deep and meaningful type to discuss very heavy things. Not exactly conservative, yet quite reserved in a very Asian way. We have mutual understandings as to how far conversations go – when someone goes silent, it’s time to change topics.
I’ve always wondered how much my parents understood who I am as a person. They know I’m stubborn. They think I’m ‘witty’. Mum thinks I’m too clever for my own good and dad would rather not know too much. Yet being so far away and having been apart for so long, what they know, is only from what I tell them. So I guess it’s up to me to decide – and sometimes I question, is it enough? Should I lead them deeper into the labyrinth of Emi?
Three more days till I leave again. Someone wise reminded me to treasure each moment with them and spend it like it may be the last time. Somehow, being here, sharing the food, feeling their energy and giving them mine… I realise these, are the precious moments I came back for. Ordinary, plain days spent in each other’s company. Not for any other purpose but to spend time together.
Turns out, I’m deeply attached to my family. It surprised me how tough it is to admit that to myself. I guess I’ve always distanced myself emotionally because I knew they’re not physically close. Yet I can admit it now, they are very important to me.
I’m so very grateful to be back with them for New Years. I am now recharged and grounded to start a wonderful new year with strength, confidence, and an abundance of love for all that surround me. May there be beauty in our eyes, kindness in our actions and peace in our hearts. May there be luck, success, prosperity and happiness all round.
So much love for you all.
The physical environment is a manifestation of our mental state.
So I guess all these years I’ve been going at it wrong. Hard as I try, I still own far-too-many possessions that follow an organised chaos, taking up space, time and endless-effort. I now realise it was all because of this one important concept I missed.
Decluttering, really starts in the mind.
You need to purge attachments, re-examine values, and make space for what’s to come.
In the next month or two, I intend to move out of the family house which I’ve lived in for almost 13 years. Many people have come and gone over the years, but I’m now the only one responsible for all the junk and crap we’ve accumulated over the years. Furniture that we inherited from the previous TWO dwellings; abandoned room full of my brother’s EVERYTHING; tools and junk left by my grandparents; and books. SO EFFIN MANY BOOKS. This is on top of my own shit that I’ve managed to hoard since before I started making money.
Tackling this has been a hugely overwhelming, yet somehow exciting experience. Overwhelming, because of the sheer volume of STUFF I need to go through. Exciting, because this great purge of 2015 is opening me up to a whole new life without clutter. (Yes I’m an optimist)
This process of purging has been a journey down some dusty forgotten memory lanes. I found physical reminders that triggered memories of things I used to do, and people I used to know. It forced me to revisit lessons I learnt the hard way. There are mistakes that I choose NOT to think about for a reason. On the flip-side, it also reminded me of how far I’ve come.
You realise how much you’ve changed, when you read through your old diaries and feel like you’re invading someone else’s privacy. The trivial things that teenage-me used to care about. The negativity and insecurities that lurked between the pages. The life goals that have since been achieved, internalised, and long forgotten. And the boys. Oh-so-many boys that have been in and out of my mind/life. Ones that have changed me in fundamental ways; and ones written in code names that I can’t decipher for the life of me.
Then I realised how absurd it is to hold on to these mementos of the past. For me, it’s enough that I got here. The details of how – no longer carry weight. It certainly humbles me to remember my beginnings and my struggles… Yet it is empowering to be able to let it all go (cue Elsa).
So goodbye my past. Thank you for equipping me with all that I need for the great adventures ahead. World, here I come!
2014. The year I conquered my fears and went on an European adventure of my own. The year I found love, and learnt that it didn’t matter whether it was returned. The year I found a new overflowing, constant peace within. The year I say goodbye to old habits. The year I understood my capacity to live without options.
Naturally, it follows that 2015 will be full of changes. This will be the year where I become unapologetically me. No longer will I allow myself to be confined by the environment. No longer will I wait for others to catch up. I will welcome the year with a new-found hunger for growth, and I will search high and low for inspirations. I will elevate myself, in the hopes to better serve others. And I will embrace whatever comes next. I’m ready for you, bring it on 2015!