Empty Nest, Hearty Soul.

Things have been incredibly entertaining for me the past few months.

I finished my first semester and started the holidays with a bang: by breaking my foot on the first day. Congratulations to me, I’ve been in a cast for the past two weeks, and have another 4 to go.

Since I started foundation year, I’ve been thinking about how to leave home, and for the past two weeks, me being home – properly home – has further intensified my desire to.

Home feels like limbo. You wake up and everything you see around you is the same and has been for the duration of your life. It’s such a comfortable feeling that forces you into complacency.

I love it but I feel like I need to step away from everything to appreciate it more. There’s this episode of Kim’s Convenience where Janet, the daughter, decides to move out from her parents’ home. They didn’t take it too well, initially. They tell her it’s not necessary and that it’ll incur more cost, be more of a burden to her because of the extra responsibilities she has to carry and a myriad of excuses in hopes to disguise their Empty Next Syndrome.

But I think those excuses aren’t excuses, and that’s… the point.

Living at home spoils me. I love my parents, I love my kakak who’s always there to do whatever I need her to do, but is my whole life expected to be like this? I’m in my 20s, I’m approaching my¬†mid 20s and that’s a scary thought because even though you know this is fleeting, it still feels like something that could be forever.

I realised earlier on that I’m very much affected by my surroundings, especially the people around me. Perhaps I need to surround myself with other people to break away from the comfort. Maybe I just need to get super, super uncomfortable to the point where all I can do is work hard to stay sane. Does this make sense?

Having your parents with you all the time is such an incredible blessing. I can’t even begin to say how fortunate I am, but living requires growth, and growth thrives on discomfort.

Maybe… maybe I’m just making my own excuses as an attempt to disguise my own fear or anxiety that I’m still having a difficult time to admit. Maybe it doesn’t matter where I am, because if I wanted to do something I would already have done it right? Maybe if I wanted to achieve a goal, the place that I’m in wouldn’t affect my ability to do it.

Maybe.

But maybe I just… need to do this?

I don’t want to leave the comfort of my bed and the fact that I get to see Mummy every day is a luxury I’m not willing to give up but forcing myself to quite literally be myself in the presence of strangers would help curb my insecurities – by beating the shit out of it. And maybe stab my Impostor Syndrome in their faces. And maybe a myriad of other good and bad reasons.

So many of my friends have lived away and learned how to be independent in ways I can’t even fathom. Hell, even Imran has spent most of his late teens and early 20s far from home and I’m pretty impressed at his character development. Deep down, I know I can do it. It will be difficult, but I’m up for the challenge.

 

 

 

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24

Happy 24th birthday to me!

I’m not quite sure what to write. Usually birthdays would feel a little more special, wouldn’t it? Gives you a chance to do some self-reflection.

Let’s see.

I think I still have a few issues to work on, but for the most part my whole life has been such a blessing. 24 years… of being completely loved and never being short of any necessities, with boundless opportunities and countless support from my favourite people.

24 is a year where I’m comfortable. A part of me feels like my days are numbered, but it’s stretched out so far that it might as well be a lifetime. Does that make sense?

I am loving who I am, who I’m beginning to be. Despite the uncertainties and the horrible apprehensions, I’m at peace. A part of me wishes I would have more to write on but perhaps I don’t need to be pedantic about everything.

My foot is healing. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk again, because I could really go for my Wednesday night ritual to Shelly Yu’s right about now. Plus, I miss Assikin. She’s been a solid constant. Every time I see her, she’s the same person but with a myriad of different things to talk about so I could always count on her as a source of entertainment, a riot that one.

Today I came back to college after 3 weeks of recuperating at home. Figured I’d will myself to leave the house and make an appearance. Everyone crowded around me, obviously. And as much as I’d love to hate on the attention, I can’t say that I did. I simply basked. Besides, we all know I came to school for the clout considering I’d be disappearing a few days after ūüėČ

Abigail and Yolanda threw me a wonderful surprise. It wasn’t much, just a piece of cake and a candle. But they sang it in class and everyone else chimed in. The sentiment meant a lot, actually. More than they think it did. It was worth the painstaking effort to drive my ass to school and wheel myself to college. I appreciate the little things people do, especially when it isn’t expected of them.

When I reached home, Sarah came over with cake and bubble tea. Bless her. We stayed and chatted for about 3 hours and then she left. I don’t really know what’s going on with her at the moment, perhaps she needs to work out a few things and can’t figure out how or what they are. I’m not too worried though, she’s sensible. Too sensible sometimes, but that’s what keeps her grounded now. Besides, I could always count on her for amazing food.

I received obligatory birthday texts from everyone, but the ones that actually mattered are my family’s. Lately I’ve been trying to open myself up to behave the way a daughter should behave instead of how an individual should. Does¬†that make sense? With Baba, I tend to dwell on the negativity a lot, but that doesn’t implicate me as much as I thought it did. Or perhaps it had and I’ve decided to ease up on the grip, I don’t know. Nevertheless, he’s trying so maybe we can meet in the middle and start from there.

With Mummy, our relationship hasn’t changed. We’re still best friends, but I’m glad she’s gotten to a point where she tries to understand and accept my anxiety. It’s new, and awkward, but she tells me to take deep breaths and recite the selawat. I appreciate that. Often times when I’m anxious, I tend to get caught up in my own head and forget about God. Perhaps now, mother’s words will ring in my ears every time my other senses start to close up.

And finally, this year I received not two, but three wonderful addition to our close-knit family; Ummi, Opah and my beautiful baby sister. The love I have for her is bulletproof. Just like that my source of happiness has branched out towards these other people; strangers not too long ago, now inseparable. Funny how that works out in the end.

Being 24, I’m beginning to appreciate things a lot more than I ever did. Small ones, big ones, they’re all a genuine blessing. Perhaps this post isn’t really much for self-reflection but reverence for what God has blessed me and with deep gratitude, I thank the best gift of all; contentment.

‚ÄúThe greatest of richness is the richness of the¬†soul.‚Ä̬†Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

She

She dons on her weariness like a thick heavy cloak, enveloping her figure tightly, suffocating.

Her feet drag for ages through the noisy gravel and her breaths come out in gasps and pants. She wonders when this will come to an end.

She walks without purpose and throws her casual smiles effortlessly, enduring the everyday chatter, falling trap to exchanging pretty nothings with equally pretty people. The mundane is her escape from little adamant whispers that drill her in the quiet – but who could blame her?

She listens for escape. She absorbs stories, feelings and thoughts from others because anything is easier than coming to terms with her own. She cracks self-deprecating jokes sometimes to lighten the mood. She screams when telling day-to-day adventures because they are the only exciting things that happen. and anything to cover her lack of interest.

but she knows she is in no rut. she feels things. she waits. she has ideas bubbling but she never takes what she wants because fear has built a white picket fence around her garden of dead roses. look at that fence. she could easily break them and cross over. her flowers have withered, doesn’t she need to look for more?

 

 

 

 

 

Nilai Etika

There was a question on ethics for my critical thinking class today that went something like this:

“You are driving at a slightly faster speed than normal because you were late. As you reach for your phone, you take your eyes off the road for one second and suddenly hit a person. This triggered a chain reaction; other cars started to brake and hit each other overall causing a catastrophe on the road.

As you get down to examine the person, you realise that he/she most definitely died on the spot. Suddenly, a woman came towards you in hysterics and started crying. You ask her what’s wrong and she looked at you in confusion. She then wailed, telling you that she’d accidentally hit the person dead.

You stand there, now with the opportunity to place the blame on her. There is a good chance that the police would take action against her, and you would get away jail-free. However, if they find out that it was you, you might be serving an even bigger penance for covering the crime up.”

i) What would you do?
ii) Why did you decide on your answer?
iii) How well did your decision adhere to your standards?

Ethics. Morality. Principles. Values.

Components that affect human beings in making decisions. People’s actions are guided and determined by what they believe in, which are influenced by external factors; things that were taught to them, values instilled in them at a young age – and personal deductions; their abilities to judge and weigh different possibilities and outcomes of a given situation.

The last question piqued my interest. “How well did your decision adhere to your standards?” implying to my ethical perspective. How do I consider the rightness and wrongness of something? Granted, given a situation like this, it’s fairly easy and obvious.

But still. If given the fact that there was no chance I could get caught, then maybe I would’ve¬†let the lady think she was to blame. I wouldn’t have said anything, actually. She came to her own conclusion and assumed it was her fault. Assumptions are frightening in a time of crisis – she should know better. It was her fault for thinking it was her fault. Whatever the circumstance, it can be twisted and warped into any way that fits my values. I value my freedom, I don’t value her innocence.

I don’t care enough to empathise. She means nothing to me – and will probably never step foot into my peripherals if we hadn’t gotten into this mess. We are two strangers who just so happen to be in the same situation.

As you can see, my morality is not exactly virtuous. I don’t pretend to strive to be utilitarian, because I’m way too selfish for that. My moral conduct is a neutral line divided by the constraints of what society has ruled out for us, and what I personally believe in. Because society already governs the degree of rightness and wrongness. And hey, I adhere to the bare minimum of that.

So to answer the last question; it’s not a matter of how well my decision bodes to my standards, it is only a matter of deciding on an action that which reflects me as a human being with a conscience. I would never have let her take the blame because it was my mistake. My fault, so my responsibility. Someone else will not bear the outcome of a careless mistake that I made, because I can’t live with the psychological consequences otherwise.

In ethics, there is a perspective called Universal Consequentialism; that the consequences of a person’s conduct holds the basis for any judgement on the rightness or wrongness of that conduct (thx wiki). And what I found interesting is that for me, it’s not about eagerly wanting to do the right thing, or having a heart for some total stranger. It’s about avoiding the consequences that I could possibly face should I violate any form of set ethics. Because even though I’m about to face punishment for what I did, my conscience will be clear. I won’t have anymore guilty bones in my body knowing that I’ve spoken the truth – and yes, the truth will ultimately set you free.

But that’s ethics. Ethics and morality are simple enough to follow because it is societal and to a certain extent, governmental. But things like values and principles are a little trickier to discern. You can’t really cop a person out as bad just because their values don’t align with yours, or if their principles are looser than yours.

Assikin brought up a super interesting scenario. She says she’s afraid of going to jail because she claims that every principle she’d set for herself was slowly broken over time. And I can understand how that’s damaging to a person. Maybe not mentally, but the gist of how you tether yourself around life’s precariousness is through your principles.

She’s afraid that because her values now don’t mean as much to her anymore, then what’s to stop her from killing off her morality, one action at a time?

I suppose that’s a radical way of taking the scenario. I don’t think it’s that easy; you’d have to go through a whole lot to get there – but the fear is rational. Having principles keep you grounded and sure of your personal values. If most of them are weak and easily broken, then do you actually know what you want? What you strive for?

This is the part where I struggle the most, too. It’s understandably difficult to find the right balance when it comes to setting your principles.

If you value your relationship with religion, then you won’t drink or have pre-marital sex. But what if this value is less important to you than, say, trying to own a company.

Would this mean that you can set a looser principle for yourself? Say, you’ll only drink until you’re 25 and then stop once you’ve had your fun. Or you’ll only have sex when you’re in a serious relationship – no hookups.

Where do you draw the line? The good news – and also bad news – is that it’s entirely up to you, which makes it a little daunting. But I think over time, the key is to understand yourself first. That sounded way less corny as I’m typing this out but whatever. Anyway, point being – figure your shit out before you decide to do something. If you do decide to drink, figure out where religion stands in your life, figure out the reason why you’d want to start drinking, figure out whether this is long-term or short term, whether you’ll be able to face the guilt of doing something that is clearly forbidden or whether the matter is not as important to you.

If you’ve already thought it through, then by all means.

I mean you don’t have to analyse every decision you make – but it’s good to train your conscience to accept or reject your actions. Because it’s going to be difficult to get out of a rut when you know you fucked up over something. I’d rather not live with that kind of shit.

With all that being said, I think it’s time for me to do some self-reflection. Tonight’s musing: To be or not to be…

 

He Smiles, Stubborn.

Just once I’d like to go absolutely crazy.

You know, chair-throwing-table-flipping-murder-screaming batshit crazy. We live every day programmed to live seemingly ‘normal’ lives, resulting to taking the piss out of our bosses or our colleagues as a form of release. We’re expected to remain calm in the face of adversity – even when time permits, we should never lose our temper.

“When angry, we lose nothing but ourselves. So get fucking angry” says the writing on the bathroom stall of Merdekarya. What does that feel like? To lose absolute control of ourselves and break away from an otherwise completely mundane lives that never transcend into anything more.

Where is the emotion? We romanticise love, sadness, even the journey to seek tranquility but where is the raw passion? The understated violent currents that run deep within our veins, burning hot and waiting to overflow?

Even then, we seek to find faults in trivial things. We furrow our eyebrows reading the morning paper, then return to our jaded routines.

But being 24, what do I know about being jaded? I can wallow in pensive sadness but rage is never in the picture. People say ‘chill’, as if anger is a discounted feeling only petty, childish people engage in.

Fuck that.

Get fucking angry. Place it atop the values of happiness and peace and whatever other sought out emotions. The world is a multitude of complexity, driven by the power-hungry and greedy hands scrabbling to commandeer our very beings. Take control, leave the notion of helplessness for the sheep waiting to be herded.

Speak your mind, we are the generation of belligerence so act like it.

 

 

Retribution

People inherently exist around you to realise your own sense of self.

I’m back in college.

Initially, I came in strong, almost too strong. In the first few weeks my desperate desire to establish my superiority has somehow backfired – emotionally – and I suddenly developed an ego complex. Everything¬†was easy, except for the socialising part. People were young, new, impressionable – and I wanted to make an impression. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that wished I was revered by my peers because I’m a person who naturally fucking loves attention, but doesn’t necessarily goes out to seek it. It’s a thrill I’ve learned over the past few years; attention is frighteningly entertaining.

But as quickly the desire came, it managed to singe a hole into my brain. My desperation isn’t apparent through the eyes of everyone else (or I hoped to God it wasn’t) but to me, I felt shitty that this was something I was fussing about. I didn’t want something like that to be my goal because it was¬†completely¬†unrelated to the primary reason of me being back in college. My purpose was to get an education, a proper one, and understand what I wanted to do later on in life – or at least have an inkling as to what I wanted to major in and make a career out of, yknow? Everything else is secondary.

I got sidetracked for the first month, driven by the desire to be accepted by these children, to have this huge gang I could hang out with every day – and you know what, a part of me really fucking did wish I could have that because I never had that in school. SAE was a little bit different, considering we were all too small to have cliques and by default, had to hang out with each other. But that was a dream that 16 year-old me wanted, and me 8 years later, can finally be mature enough to tell her it’s alright if you don’t have that. It’s completely alright. You’re not missing out on¬†anything.

But I caught on to the fact that I still, until now, remain mesmerised by the glitter so much so my eyes are blinded by the possibility that I might become ‘popular’ instead of focusing on the matter at hand.

My perspectives quickly changed after that, and it’s continuing to change over time. I think coming into college with much more experience has helped me tremendously in realising my goals, my aim and determination to do the best I can, and be the best version of myself.

I’m at a weird, weird part of my life right now where some of my unresolved issues are slowly coming to light and it feels like I’m heading towards these battles with a fucktonne of ammo after swallowing 13000 books and, like, the least care in the world about what everyone else’s strategies are. Ultimately, that’s my aim, right there. To do things I’ve wanted to do. Seize opportunities I could never have dared to do a few years back. This is my retribution, and finally, God, finally, it feels good to be able to know I’m achieving things. Not that I haven’t before, but I’m accepting everything I do with open arms and the pressure of making a mistake seems like such a dumb thing now. Achievements mean a little bit more to me now because I’ve actually put effort and passion in them.

Some people are late bloomers, I guess. I’m fine with that. Maybe people are running already by the time I learn to walk but that’s really, completely okay. I’m out here enjoying the process either way.

Outside The Window

The weather has been temperamental.

Outside my open window, I felt the breeze of an oncoming downpour, which has been a ritual now for several days. The clock marks 1.47 am, a peculiar time to be awake but when the world quietly rests, I like to have my eyes wide open. Sometimes it gets lonely, and the only accompaniment I have are low rumbles of household machinery, and songs of the crickets. If I peer through the cracks of my uplifted panes, I can see other tiny windows with the lights off, and the comfortable silence only invites a peaceful rest.

The wind was heady and thick that night from the humidity. There has never been a day when the sun hasn’t shone, and the air doesn’t suffocate inhabitants under the torrid zone. Every night at exactly half-past joint, no matter the weather, the air always seemed cooler and more bearable – tonight especially.

I’ve always wished I could live in constant 20 degrees with air so crisp your nose tingles every time you inhale. But London 2016 wasn’t very kind, even during the spring; sunshine wasn’t present, and the breeze cut through my gloves easily. Maybe it’s a little too far-fetched. Maybe I loved my weather too much to make that leap.

Sometimes when my neighbour switches on the lights, I see a tiny old lady with white hair hobbling to the fridge easily twice her size reaching for some cold water. The dreary activities of one when observed by another welcomes imagination – and I find myself constructing a whole life for this woman. Perhaps she lives alone because her husband passed away. Perhaps he died from tending to their garden one day. Their Iron Cross begonias always did thrive, and bloomed beautifully – even despite his absence. Her habits remind me of To’ Mi, my late grandmother.

She used to say that weather determines her mood, because it determines the health of her orchids. Orchids are notorious for being as temperamental as the slightest touch from the wrong hands can potentially wilt them. Some days they flaunt their colours, other days they dull and shy away from onlookers but they still live knowing someone is there to care for them.

Yes, perhaps I’ve grown fond of the weather over the years. 2 a.m reveries wouldn’t be as wistful under harsh winters and outside, people wouldn’t be so kind to offer a hand when they can’t even feel theirs.

At least, to me. Because there is no other place I can rest, I can feel familiarity, than outside my open window.