Do Wave Goodbye Properly

What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

Source: Childhood Revisited

To my own disbelief, I am unable to recall much details of my childhood. Every time I tried to, it was just a very blurry vision of me bullying and bossing my classmates around (which is why I will spend a lifetime cowering in shame… or making up for it, somehow), being under a lot of trouble with random people, watching a lot of MTV (which is not appropriate then) and 90s cartoons or animated movies, and also being very active in classes and especially P.E, just to show the little brats at school that girls too can be as good as guys when it came to sports. Most probably it is because even my unconscious was trying to repress how extremely unpleasant and exasperating I was as a kid. I guess that is for the better.

Yet I can safely say that there is one particular recollection of myself that is probably the earliest I can remember. I believe it was when I was around 3 or 4 years old, on my way to preschool with my Dad holding my hand. He dropped me off near my classroom, where every morning all the kids needed to line up before going inside one-by-one; which I still have no idea why it is still kept as a custom up to this day back home. Anyway, I remembered I needed to hurry lining up, so my Dad helped me with my tiny school backpack and I just took off without properly waving goodbye to him, which is out of habit. My Dad then called out to me saying “I’ll see you later” to which I responded bizarrely as a little kid: I simply waved my hand from the distance without even looking at him and proceeded to line up with the other kids.

Thank God my Dad found this hilarious, as I also remembered him telling the story and reenacting just exactly what I did to him in front of my Mum and aunts when he picked me up from school a few hours later.

I do not remember how I react to that then, but now I am embarrassed and baffled at the same time whenever I recall this peculiar bit of my childhood. What kind of 3-year-old brushed off her parents to start school? Nope, ain’t got no time to look back even for a second to smile and wave back goodbye. Such school. Much important. Chillax, kid, school is not going anywhere. Jeez.

My Mum did mention that I was very excited with the idea of going to school that I used to constantly ask her if I can go to one whenever I see an older kid in the neighborhood walking to school with their parents; which I honestly cannot fathom why up to now. She also said how I was always eager when it comes to answering the teacher’s questions, or singing in front of the class or doing physical activities with my peers; which currently does not even count as a distant memory because I thought I have always been a lazy bum, too anxious to even breathe in any social setting possible. 20 years is enough for change, apparently.

Now that I have transformed to a completely different human being, it is understandable that this particular memory and its back-up evidences left an everlasting impression of little traces of my old self. Yet to be frank, I still cannot comprehend why, out of all, other memories available, that is the one that pops out of my head whenever I tried to delve in the earliest image in my head.

The best thing I can come up with is probably related to what I have hinted in the beginning of this post. Perhaps my poor soul cannot take the other numerous cringe-worthy moments or actions I did as a little kid, and this is the only memory that will prevent myself suffering from a brain seizure or heart failure. Not to mention all the awkward and embarrassing moments I have in my teen years, which I can still recall vividly because suddenly by age 12 or 13 my brain had only come to realize I exist as a human being.

In conclusion, it was a defense mechanism.

On Being “Self-Righteous”

*Warning: Rants and Cusses Ahead

Nearing the New Year’s eve, I was going down the trip to memory lane as I thought of what had happened throughout this year. To sum up, it’s been a whole roller-coaster ride of emotions, with all the ups and downs of joy in companionship and travelling, along with the constantly plummeting academic zeal. I probably just sighed my life out of me.

That brought me to recall a certain memory about the very first bad encounter I had with my roommate, which did not get any better afterwards that I decided to move out early next month. It was a fine Sunday morning, the best hours to sleep in a little before one instinctively wake up for brunch. The roommate by then has woken up for at least half an hour already, and she did not seem to be able to handle things gently; a trend I have observed since the first few weeks of sharing the room together. She might be too immersed in the rush of preparing herself for whatever reason I do not have any interest in knowing, or maybe she simply have picked up that horrendous habit of hers for too long that it seemed just proper to slam the door, smash her plastic container of clothing when opening, closing and re-arranging it underneath the bed, and use the hair-dryer just a meter from a sleeping roommate (ME!). Or, it might be just me, waking up in the wrong side of the bed that particular Sunday morning, but I was not happy with all the bloody noise I woke up to. Frankly enough, I was pissed.

My head hurt as I staggered to the sink to wash my face up, because there is no point in trying to go back to bed. Having tried to calm myself down by taking deep breaths does not really help, and as I was about to just tell her how I would appreciate it if she could be more gentle with the way she handle stuff, she already stomped out of the room. Being a typical millennial which I am not proud about, I resorted to the internet to grumble, saying something along the lines of: “Does anyone here actually know how to handle things gently?” Having felt like I let out something out of my chest already, I tried to carry on with the day, keeping in mind that at least I will have a moment to just slowly begin and plan my last hours of the weekend. All the efforts to be positive were destroyed by an unexpected reply I had from an acquaintance saying, “Why don’t you teach the person to?”

Mood. Fucking. Ruined. Twice.

Surely it was well-meant, but with what I had just came across earlier in the day, I just could not see that comment in a positive light. Honestly, is it really a good time to insinuate an ancient metaphor of “giving a fish or teaching one to fish” and preaching about which is more beneficial than the other? Really?

This makes me think about one’s capacity to be compassionate or considerate, or unassuming about others. It is perfectly fine if one has infinite ability to do any of the three; actually, good for you, perhaps you are the next one in line after Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi or Mohammed; name any morally superior figures or even God himself. Maybe next time, just keep in mind that not everyone has the same ability to put themselves on a pedestal as high as you put yourself into. Oh, and another thing: people ranting in any social media platforms are oooobviously not worth the time or effort of you knocking yourself off of your high horse. In my case, no thanks, you can stay high up there on your own. Methinks, unlike the lady doth, me heart is just not as big.

You may argue that it was just your casual take on the case, the act of free speech… that I shouldn’t take it too personally… yadda yadda yadda. Well, here I am chipping in my humble two-pence for you: nobody gives a single fuck of what you think or say, no matter how well-intentioned it is, especially if that person is evidently pissed. In all honesty though, as someone who considers yourself sanctimonious, being mindful and sympathetic about others is undoubtedly your inherent virtue. You really do not need me to elaborate more of it, pffffttt, what was I thinking?

Better yet, be my guest and do try to teach someone to change their long-held habit. It is quite apparent that I have not the patience that you appear to have.

To be fair, I did ask the roommate to be gentler as much as I asked her to clean up her sporadic hair fall to no avail. See, I did try to be the better person here, yet there is only so much you can do on your end to make things better. Some people really just are. In the case of the roommate, lightly put, that is just the way she handle things even if she is aware she is sharing a facility with another human being.

Whew, I guess it is clear enough I still held some anguish back as I wrote this down. But I suppose I am ending 2015 well with this particular story as I came to realize that I should at least try to be a little more tactful in what I say or write, and when I do so. That way, I will actually try to be more considerate, and not just come off as one, unnecessarily giving impromptu life lessons to those who are not in immediate need of them. Yup.

On “Happiness”

Once, I was having a nice dinner with a friend, and naturally the conversation got deeper as the ‘hangry’ alert in our brains are put to stop… only to be replaced with a food comma afterwards. But that is beside the point.

As I was saying, we got to talk about something rather abstract. Both of us are foreign students from different backgrounds, pursuing different careers, but basically, we were pretty much on the phase where we were jaded with our efforts to fit in the society we are in, which brings us to the classic, yet totally not helpful questions: Why am I here again? Was I expecting too much in the beginning? Or aiming to high? Is it too soon to judge? If you are alone, all the abomination within you will just break loose, ruining your day. But because we were physically together and mentally on the same boat, well, I had no idea why, but it feels nicer knowing someone is there saying, “I feel ya, mate”. Although we do not manage to sort things out, at least it gets your mind off of it for a moment.

There was one particular issue which we spend some time pondering about. It was a simple question she directed to me: “Are you happy?”

Perhaps it is true that the simplest things in life that is the most extraordinary. Putting that in context, I mean that the question might be simple, but obviously, responding with a solid yes or no to it is no piece of cake. The first thing that comes to my mind by then was, “I don’t know really. How do you even measure happiness?”

“I mean, I am grateful that I get to become friends with new people here. I feel quite content physically because even though I am not exercising regularly, I am not in constant medication and I still can keep up with my daily activities. And financially, I manage quite well,” I continued, “But in another sense, I do feel a little disappointed with the whole academic experience, and I feel like I probably should study something else. I feel bad that I am not as fluent with the language as I thought I should be after a year of formal learning experience. I dislike the whole baggage of national representation which I am enormously reluctant to take, yet it seems like the norm already wherever you go, so I can’t help it. Considering all this, how can I easily decide whether I am happy or not?”

Initially she told me that somehow, because my immediate answer is not a “Yes”, it implies that I am not happy. Yet she seem to also take the point of my argument to attention. She brought up the discussion on one’s goals in life to the table, and that one usually measures their happiness by seeing whether these goals are achieved, usually one at a time.

In that sense, I told her that generally I have two goals in life; the immediate, short-term ones, and the long-term ones. These short-term ones may or may not be related to the long-term ones, and currently I am far from reaching the latter. The short-term goals are partially achieved, as they consisted of those that are mostly physical and trivial. In this case, I reckon the state of partial achievement of the short-term goals and the lack of any for the long-term goals do not necessarily mean that I am currently distressed.

Maybe it’s just because I am more near-sighted than visionary, or because I see happiness as an ultimate ideal rather than merely a mental state of one’s pleasant emotions, but I guess being “alright” is enough for the moment. Food, water, clothing, place to stay, books… and maybe occasional human company–just enumerating the essentials constituting a “fine” for an answer to “How are you today?”.

Well, emotions, even the positive ones, have always been difficult to fathom, anyway.

On “Passion”

I was a firm believer of what people call the “calling” or “passion” for at least my whole high school life. I came to question its viability when I entered university, and I eventually became indifferent to it.

That summed up the biggest change of outlook in life I had for the past 8 years of my life, which influences my view on individuality.

To be clear, I recognize how some people may realize early on where their passion or calling lies and pursue through it, some might find it by accident, or realize it in their latter stage in life, while some may not at all even come to that point. But life goes on, and someone has got to pay the bills. In that case, I do not see why people are not allowed to be indifferent of their jobs, because it does not construct their whole life or identity as a person.  The structure requires you to work for money thus survival, and sometimes, what you like doing is not deemed lucrative. But you need to make do of what is available and feasible.

This brings me to think about whether one life matters; whether my existence is significant in this world. Studying international politics may bring you to think about how individuals were the least of the concern of the world system as it is power that matters most, and that mostly, it was held by other larger entities. If we as humans are just teeny tiny parts of a larger system, it is rather difficult to have a say on whether one individual is significant to the whole order of things. Yes, there are very powerful individuals, but even their very actions are the result of the decision of a concerted opinion and effort. Bottom line, average people have always been the bottom of the food chain.

I recalled when this thought first struck me as an 18-year-old, it made me question many things in life, but mostly my belief that one person matters; that I matter. I contemplated whether there are even any chances of me to live up to what I then believed is my passion; furthermore, how I even dare to think there will be such chances and that I can obtain those goals. How was one deemed qualified and chosen for a specific set of responsibilities despite their similar educational background and personal qualities? How, in any possible mathematical calculation or any other intangible considerations, was I so “unique” or “special” compared to anybody else that I may be able to achieve it?

But more importantly, is that even how the system works? Instead, are things decided by something trivial, like the alphabetical order? Or maybe whether your documents are placed on top of everyone else’s? I don’t know, it is even more pointless trying to know who is responsible with running the system.

So after going through sleepless nights, unable to function in daily life, blaming the obvious lack of clarity of the future and failing miserably in trying to answer whether I could defy the way the cookie crumbles, I decided to drop the embarrassing “special snowflake” syndrome and basically turn to “making lemonades out of lemons”, or whatever it is that sells. I instantly feel like a burden is lifted, just in time to collect the scattered remains of dignity I have left by then.

Ambitions can be overrated, especially these days with all the popularity of “life coaches” preaching “You Can!”, immediately welcomed without question of their disturbingly similar content by audiences craving for approval and recognition. Sadly enough, it is one of the basic psychological human needs, and people come to pay for it to be fulfilled. Moreover, this underlies how people are increasingly dissatisfied with their life because all strive for the ideal formula: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Little do they know, some will literally never work because either no one hires them, or the things they enjoy are simply considered worth no value in the system.

Even worse, none seem to realize that the measure of self-fulfillment comes from within: one does not have to turn their hobby or talent to something lucrative to feel fully accomplished. A job may just be a job, but it does not stop one from drawing, or singing, or writing, or playing the piano for fun. Fun could be enough. One just needs to do something that pays, and with a little time management, one can still feel alive; perhaps that is what “appreciating the little things” means, and that can matter, too.

To believe or not to believe in a special “calling” or a “passion”: that is not the point of this post. Regardless of which, choose the one that makes you function; the one that lets you at least survive the system.

Hi!

For anyone who happen to come across this site and expecting some edgy insights about the study of philosophy, let me just straighten it out from the very beginning: This is (probably) just another blog run by a stereotypical millennial whining about life, which I do realize in all actuality is basically pointless. And I am using the word “philosophy” in a casual manner.

It has been only a few days since the start of the holiday break, and I am weirdly more tense than I should be embracing the joy of doing nothing or having zero imminent responsibilities… or at least it seems so (the word “THESIS” just popped out in my head). As the brain is not occupied with anything immediate, my mind began to wander around the endless uncertainty of the future when I realized it is only eight months left until the end of my graduate program.

That is where an old f(r)iend, the so-called “real world”, started waving back at me as if reminding me of how I am in a coveted state of unemployment and that I should start thinking of my next plans, which I have absolutely no clue about.

Being struck by such thoughts while panicking inside during the cold winter does not help at all. After mindlessly browsing internship and job opportunities for next year–feeling the efforts are adequate for the time being, too–I decided to go out with a few friends for a chat, bonding over the fact that we are stuck here at a still-foreign atmosphere, and not home for Christmas and New Year. Most of them have had jobs for years before taking their current study leave, and as they are aware of the remaining duration of my stay, they naturally ask the very question I am afraid I still have no answer to: “So, what’s next for you? Any plans yet?”

I told them I would just basically try any chances given when the time comes. They offer me advice and stories from their experience, which is a very nice gesture, and I wholeheartedly appreciate their concern. I understood that school and work are different, and that I should ready myself to be adaptable and quick-thinking at the same time; and that is mostly what they warn me about, but I still keep them in mind because… I suppose understanding what is to come and actually understanding from experience are two different things as well. Some challenges they told me from their experience scared me, and although they say it will be alright, I guess it’s too late as my brain has recorded it as a threat. Thanks, guys. But really, thanks.

I pondered upon what is at stake for me in the near future, on whether I will be ready for the end of this specific chapter of my education, and start assuming the responsibility as an employee (yikes!), a part of an intricate system where you are not allowed to make mistakes; not to mention the need to socialize with new people, be it your superior or your colleagues. That thought immediately hyperventilates me.

But is anyone ever ready to take the plunge? Do they just dive in and try to float for survival? What if they cannot swim through to wing the system and finally just sink in the abyss of indifference to one’s life as a whole? How does one examine life? Does being happy matter? To me? Am I just scared of the shadow of the future, or am I trying to reason this all out because I am just a lazy, spoiled ass?

All this mumbo jumbo of confusion leads me to starting this blog, an attempt to resolve the unhelpful, blithering questions I have in mind, hampering me to get things done immediately. Fat chance, I know, but well, apparently it is widely more accepted to die trying than doing nothing at all.

But why blog it? Why not just keep a journal or something? Well, perhaps despite all the self-evident anti-social qualities of my persona, deep down I still secretly hope that I am not alone facing the whole wide world, ready to eat me once I left an equally scary, but relatively safer place called school.

So there you have it. I would pointlessly roam through the depths of my fear of the future and unproven theories of life itself, try to rationalize my actions or thoughts of it in pursuit of learning more about myself, and shove it to everyone who happens to stumble along this blog.