More than you know

why

why does one always want
to prove themselves
to people who matter and
to people who do not too

is it inferiority
or is it mere fear
compelling innate supremacy
when there is no demand

regret sets in
the true self awakens in horror
wondering is there really a need
for such preposterous hollers

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University journey #3

A year in UB-SIM. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be delightful. There is no way to describe all the lovely occurrences I’ve had in that school, even though I might not have fully immersed myself in the “uni experience”. Ahhh, time flies, and what was meant as an unplanned stunt actually landed me right in NTU, where I am currently attending. Read on to find out how this happened.

It was the time when my brother received his A-level results. He was deciding which university to go to and was taking his time since he had another two years (due to NS) to choose where he wanted to go. It was during this period of time that I contemplated long and hard as to whether I should apply to a local university as well, just to try, y’know. No harm, right? So… I took the leap of faith. There are of course other personal reasons that compelled me to apply for a local university again, but if you would like to know about that do ask me personally!

It took me awhile to finally decide to reveal to my friends that I am transferring to NTU, and I would therefore not be in the same classes as them anymore. It was a difficult process for me personally because it meant that I had to deal with my own emotional turmoil, and my friends were mostly saddened by this piece of news. I did not expect it to be difficult at all, but my friends were the main reasons that I was so reluctant to leave. I eventually did drop all my modules for the summer semester and applied to be dropped out of school completely. As I did that, I promised myself that in this summer break, I must make as much time as possible for the people who matter most to me.

Indeed, that was what I tried to do – I went exercising weekly with my friend, worked more, found another job, visited my friends in SIM as often as I could and had meals with them. It was a fulfilling summer because I truly spent time on the things that mattered most to me.

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Then August came and I was slightly daunted by the fact that school was going to start. Out of the blue, I received a text asking if I want to be part of NTU’s sports camp. I never signed up, but my friend asked if I wanted to be in and I had to be available for all 4 days and maybe a day before that. I hesitated a little because it was rather last minute and I had to clear a lot of things on my schedule but I went for it in the end. YAY. Thank you friend, for the rec 🙂 Truly an experience I would never forget; I made my first friends in NTU there, and even my first friend from my course was from sports camp, although we didn’t know each other from the camp itself.

It was hella fulfilling, and I seriously wouldn’t have had it any other way. Thank you SU24 for this wonderful wonderful memory that I know I will keep close to my heart 🙂

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EXCITING EXCITING!! After sports camp came the post sports camp activities which was mega mega fun!!! It was during this period that I struggled with time management because I suck at it HAHAHA. Some of my friendships with people I saw a future with were strengthened, thank goodness, and it was also during this period of time that I saw who will take the extra step to initiate a meet up with me even though I was extremely busy with different things.

Thank you so much to friends, whether you’re from NTU or not, who bothered to ask for meet ups, who initiated conversations with me and who took the time to think of me – y’all are the best. I don’t know what I would do without you guys in my life. Thank you a million times, x

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Now, I’m in a happy place. Is this the “uni experience” people speak about? I’m extremely thankful that I got the chance to be part of all these!! This was a very summarised version of what I felt and underwent in NTU so far though. If I had to describe whatever I have went through in NTU in a word, I would say… exhilaratingI have no idea how to express my gratitude to everyone who made it possible for me to have this wonderful experience, but I’m really super super appreciative!!!!!

Things definitely changed, as did my mentality when I applied for SIM vs now, but one thing I know for sure is that there was no compromising of the “uni experience” in SIM for me, it was only because I didn’t pursue the things that encompassed this phrase!! Do not ever, because of this post, think that SIM is boring or has no place for fun whatsoever. In fact, it’s the total opposite 🙂 Y’KNOW, as I’m typing this I’m really missing SIM – the warmth it brought me when I realised I was returning to school every single day to a small group of familiar faces, to people who I know will be my friends even when I don’t have time to get out of Pulau NTU to meet them, the people who make an effort to ensure I’m motivated. Even though I’ve left them, a piece of me will always, always stay in SIM, x

Stay tuned for part 4 of this crazy journey!!

Little stories that occupy my mind in the middle of the night #1

This late night storytelling is about an Indian man who I came across, but never had the chance to properly meet.

Seeing him made me so confused – why would someone, or anyone, walk around the carpark with a cloth at 11pm, and somehow looked like he wasn’t going to walk away? As this thought crossed my mind, my father greeted him with a smile and a wave from inside the car. So obviously I asked him if and how they knew each other, and my father replied, this guy washes cars for people for $30/month! When I heard $30, my brain took a double take and I just had to ask, $30/month only? What does he survive on? My father instantly replied, this is his side job, he has a day job and he washes cars for people in this carpark on weekday nights.My heart stopped beating for a second.

All I could think of was how tired he has to be, and how straining his financial situation must be, for him to be washing cars and selling his body to this manual labour that most people would gladly pay to escape from. Yet, he smiles brightly with warmth at every customer as he recognises the cars that are driven into the carpark every single weekday night.

I wanted to probe more to see if my father has any more answers to the many unanswered questions in my head, but I was starting to choke up from thinking about this man’s plight. Pity is a strong word to use, but I guess I would say I sympathise with him, not in a “he’s poor so I sympathise him” way, but rather in a “I wish I could be as strong as him” way.

Typing this made me emotional, only because I realised for a fact that I am not treasuring what I have. Everyone focuses on the things they wish to have, but forgets to be appreciative of the things that they already have. In order to smile so warmly at every single customer, you must be truly contented with what you have. Here’s to this Indian man who knocked some sense into me – thank you for teaching me so much; even though I have never spoken to you, you are a true inspiration and I hope you will strive on and achieve whatever you want!

#traveloguesg: Syonan Gallery

Last Monday, I took two hours out of the first day of my long-awaited summer break for a solo trip to this intriguing place, the Syonan Gallery. A little background on this place: it used to be known as Old Ford Factory before it underwent renovation and became the Former Ford Factory that we know now. It is the place that Sir Percival surrendered to the Japanese Army General, Yamashita, unconditionally on 15 February 1942 during World War II (WWII).

These two hours were very well spent. Even though I had wanted to go for the tour at 3pm, I figured that I would not hear and see as much of the oral recounts as well as exhibitions if I participated in the tour so… the choice was clear 🙂

As I toured this extremely quiet place, I felt the slight atmosphere changes as the gallery transits from one stage of the war to another. Here are only some of my thoughts as I wandered from exhibition to exhibition.

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This haunting past that Singapore has cannot feel more distant to me, a mere millennial who did not go through the pains and sufferings of my ancestors. Detachment, that’s the word. It feels so unreal that this war ever happened because I will probably never experience any of this.

When I was in Secondary School, my Social Studies teacher posed a question to the class, something about how we felt about a (at that time) recent terrorist attack that occured overseas. She listed a couple of adjectives such as afraid, worried, detached etc and asked everyone to raise their hands as she read out the adjective that we are feeling. When it came to the word detached, I was the only one in class who raised my hand, and many people looked at me with surprise. I suppose it was because they find it difficult to believe that someone would feel detachment over fear regarding terrorism, but I had an explanation. It was not because I was not scared, I do dread the possibility that terrorism will arrive in Singapore, and I wish that it would never arrive in Singapore. However, given that something like this happened miles away, I can only feel pity and detachment, not the intense fear that everyone else seemed to be feeling.

I presume this is the reason that all these information seem to fascinate me, because the artifacts that are placed in front of my eyes are real and concrete.

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This was the exact room and table that Sir Percival and Army General Yamashita had their negotiations regarding the surrender, and below, shows the transcript of the surrender process.

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Once we were under the control of the Japanese, we were renamed Syonan-to, which translates to Light of the South.

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As I go on to read about what happened during the war, what agonised me the most was the fact that the prisoners-of-war (POWs) are treated so much less than a human. The torture that was inflicted on them was unspeakable of, yet there were oral recounts by the courageous people who managed to survive and tell their story. I listened to a couple of them, and one of which said that he underwent water torture, which was the process where the Japanese kempeitais would insert a water pipe into the POW’s mouth, and turn on the water. The POW will be forced to swallow the water until his stomach bloats to a sizeable extent. Then, the kempei would step on their bloated stomachs such that the water will be forced our of their mouths, noses and even ears. It was horrifying to hear, which resulted in my inability to listen to the rest of the oral recounts, as I could not bear to hear any more.

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The Japanese, in order to resolve overcrowding issues, decided to build primitive farming villages for some Singaporeans. Besides escaping from the kempei’s wrath, these Singaporeans also felt rather lucky and happy that they were able to make a small livelihood.

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News of the surrender spread like wildfire as the atomic bombs hit Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Above, would be a quote from a Singaporean regarding what he had heard about the surrender, and below would be the Japanese news articles announcing the surrender.

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After WWII, many Japanese were captured and put on trial for war crime.

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This gallery posed a gentle reminder to me that people such as Elizabeth Choy, Lim Bo Seng and other unsung Singaporean heroes who eventually died during this devastating war, did not sacrifice so much to be known as heroes today. They wanted to do the right thing and fight for their country’s honour and for that, I was moved despite the detachment I feel. It is so remarkably noble of them!

Singapore has come such a long way to restore and build upon the peace that our ancestors so painfully worked for us to savour. To appreciate it and at least have some knowledge is definitely the least I can do 🙂 It was an enlightening solo trip, and I would definitely do it again (but maybe not so soon) because I missed the chance to tour their little garden, and also did not listen to all of the oral recounts. There is truly so much to be learnt about the history of Singapore, which makes me so glad I took the time to revisit the things I’ve learnt in Social Studies back in Secondary School, and to relive the moments I’ve read about in books when I was in Primary School.

Being an Ambivert

I don’t know how many people can relate to this – being an ambivert. For people who are reading this and wondering which spectrum of extrovert or introvert this term belongs to, it actually refers to being a mixture, or a balance of both.

First of all, being an ambivert means you are so awkward when it comes to meeting new people. Take for example, a social event, maybe a party. You are never sure if you are able to successfully strike up a conversation with someone you think you would genuinely like to know. Wait, you can’t even muster up the courage to approach them in the first place. You can’t even imagine what to say if you were to initiate anything. So you wait until someone, hopefully a mutual friend,  introduces you to this person. At this point, you feel lucky and happy to know this mutual friend just because that he/she introduced you to the person you wanted to know.

Then, the awkwardness begins. However, you are not a stranger to small talk at all! You engage in a conversation to know more about this person because well, that is what you had wanted to do in the first place. You are careful about revealing too much, you do want that person to keep on talking, and you are cautious about the things you say but at the same time, you want to blurt out so many things.

Consequently, the both of you start to become closer and closer, gradually but surely. Regardless of gender, you feel thankful to have met him/her at the party because it was the event that brought you together. Despite this appreciation, you are somehow still unable to open your heart up to that person fully, no matter how much he/she divulges. It is a headache, to constantly contemplate whether or not to say something that matters to yourself but more than that, you may be worried that this friend might judge, or lower their opinions of you.

Ego-involvement. That is it, no matter what you do, you are somehow unable to let go of this sense of pride in you.

Do you see? If this is relatable to you in some sense, you do have traits of an ambivert, which I believe most people are. There are some people, howbeit, who balance this ambiverted sense of self better than others.

My inspiration to write about this stems from my inner emotions and thoughts that I don’t usually confide in people. I don’t know if I’m going to regret posting this, but it is something that I thought was interesting enough to share.

Being an ambivert has probably made you realize that this world is made up of really nice people. Simultaneously, it is made up of really nasty people as well. Enclosing yourself in your own comfort zone may not be as bad as people think, neither is being alone. Being adventurous though, is something that you know you want, from the bottom of your heart. People nowadays are all for living in the now and #YOLO, right?

Periodically, you crave attention. You want someone to notice you for something that you are doing. Other times, all you want to do is go home and wrap yourself under the blanket and stop interacting with the world.

You are easily influenced by your peers, just as you are easily influenced by that soft but assertive voice in your head. Sometimes, there is no in-between. At times, you cannot spell out your decisions because you don’t know what your heart desires, even if it is a simple conclusion. To put it simply, you know what you want, but you just cannot put your mind to it and tell yourself that is the best decision you can make. You’re neither decisive nor indecisive, something along these lines.

Somehow, everything to you is a passing phase. Oh, I liked flat water bottles at one point because they seemed practical, now I like big and round ones because they are even more practical. Oh, I liked haversacks at one point because it is convenient, now I like tote bags because they are even more convenient. Oh, I liked pens with covers at one point because they looked classy, now I like retractable pens because they look even classier. It is because of this that you cannot decide what to buy for yourself, knowing that you’ll get tired of it. Even this thought makes you exhausted after awhile.

You never know how to describe yourself when the occasion calls for it. For instance, when someone asks you to list something interesting about yourself, you would think all the way back to kindergarten and eventually, manage to find something to say that may not even impress people who were listening. It’s pretty tragic.

Nevertheless, you are beyond grateful that you are an ambivert because you can empathise with both introverts and extroverts. In spite all that was said, the perks of being an ambivert are truly remarkable, to say the least 🙂

Maybe this is just me. 

I’m all for people following their dreams

Casually meandering into the boutique on my own for the first time, I stood briefly at the entrance with both arms stiff by my side and took in with my eyes all the colors on garments that seemed to reflect every ray of light shone on them. The stale odor of the new clothes filled my nose as the rhythm of the electronic dance music played in the store prompted me to nod my head along with it. I then walked in and proceeded to touch any clothing that caught my attention. Soft, smooth, thin, thick, warm, lightweight… they all felt so voguish.

Should I pick that soft sweatshirt, or this pretty suede skirt? Should I purchase that twenty-dollar vest, or that everyday dress? How do I decide what to choose? I craved to feel the best version of myself in whatever I wore, but at the same time, I wanted things that did not fit into that category. Living in a first world country where comfort has never been an issue got me to question my lifestyle. Had I been living, or just surviving based on societal standards? There are so many things that I want, and I intend to turn the wants into plans.

I plan to feel more than the six types of innate emotions that everyone else in the world experiences. I plan to feel genuine, raw emotions while doing something that I am truly passionate about. I plan to feel the soft wind brush against my skin and the itch for adventure tickle my heart. I plan to experience more than what I have imagined from books since a tender age. I plan to be the person that I aspire to be as I pursue things and subjects that I have always been sincerely intrigued by.

To 2016

I had begun to write a gratitude post for the people I am truly thankful for in the year 2016 like I did in 2014, but realised that it meant including lots of patronising and superficial content, so I decided that instead of just posting photographs and writing paragraphs of words that I don’t think will really sink into people’s minds, I will show my gratitude by appreciating and treasuring them more in my heart. Below are just some lessons that I have learnt throughout the 12 long months in 2016.

Things I’ve learnt in 2016 (so far) was written in June. Many of those things still hold true and are dear to me even though they are unexplained. I wrote the 10 things I have realised because I was extremely upset at a conflict that was supposedly over, but came back to haunt me. To be honest, I don’t think I have these 10 lessons drilled in my head yet despite the use of the word learnt. As mentioned above, these are the 10 things I have realised – a tad bit late, but better late than never, right? – as I was trying to sort my thoughts.

“I want so much to be strong.”

“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.”

2016 had been such a painful year for me. I crashed emotionally harder than I ever did, and I was not the person I envisioned myself to be. It would be absurd and unrealistic to believe that I can become that person in just 12 months, but one can try. Baby steps, right?

Emotions are humanistic. They are natural but may not be wanted, yet they exist anyway. In order to be strong it does not mean that one has to be void of emotions, it just means that he would have to be in control of them and use them appropriately. Point #2 to remember.

Nobody else can look down on me except myself. At the same time, I don’t want to be one of those people who “peaks in high school”.

This was something said in several movies and books, and it’s something that is unerasable from my mind. High school for me was three years ago but since then, it was like I never found my calling. I am still stuck in this circle of “I don’t know what I want”. One fact that I have grasped is that most things never stick – acquaintances, friends, closer friends etc. I was not expecting to be in contact with everyone I knew, but popularity never lasts. I just wish I knew that when I was 14 years old. So here is another thing to add to my resolutions: do everything as if there will never be a second chance. That’s how I would know if I am truly passionate about something, or anything at all.

Cheers to a new year ahead of me, as I turn 20. May the obstacles I face be just a phase in my life, and may they always make me stronger than before. 2016, thank you for this hell of a ride, but I quite glad to be saying this personal goodbye to you. Let’s hope 2017 will be better than just average 🙂