Thursday, October 3, 2013


In the midst of procrastination I accidentally stumbled upon an old chain of emails between me and my best friend from high school. Gmail is really cruel. Recently I read a ThoughtCatalog about Gmail and the (often) terrible memories it keeps for you. When I switched to Gmail everything from my old hotmail account got transferred over. 8 years of email exchanges, social media notifications. From the days when I was web designing and was pen pals with other little webmistresses across the world, to the days when I spammed my friends with ridiculous chain mails. To the days in high school, where we all hung out in the Art Block, met at the library or the mall after school, when we had nicknames for our crushes and it was such a big deal. When we used to be sheltered little girls worrying about silly little things, but it was so innocent and nice and safe.

I have a confession that shouldn't come as a surprise: I suck at keeping friends. In fact, sometimes I really don't want to keep friends. Growing up as an only child, I grew up learning to be alone. I was always myself's best friend, and even when I made best friends, they were always other only children. Our minds really connected, but it always felt like something detrimental was missing.

I grew up with the attitude of hating people who were sheep. I always wanted to be different. I hated what other people liked. I liked to be the loner. Rather be a loner than a sheep. Always. Rather be by myself than lower my pride. Always. No one taught me otherwise. No one told me otherwise.

I'm also the type of person where, if you push me away, then I won't be able to forgo my pride to chase after you. Never. I'll only push you away further myself. If you don't care about me as much as I truly care about you, I would rather pretend I don't care than admit the truth. Always.

That's why I'm really a shitty keeper of friendships. I have too much pride, and I was born a loner. I mean, naively I'd like to believe that friendship is powerful enough to overcome differences, overcome petty disputes and unspoken words of jealousy. I'd like to believe that some of the friendships I've established are those that transcend time or effort. No matter how long or how distant the separation, the old flame can always rekindle. But who am I kidding?  Recently I've come to believe that you only ever have yourself to rely on. Friendship is not strong enough to rely on. Neither is love from anyone who's not family. People are fickle and everyone has a pretense. They only do what they know they "should" do as a "friend". Isn't that what I used to do as a kid? I learnt from peers, from TV shows and story books that this is "how to be a friend". This is what is socially acceptable. But in reality, everyone puts themselves first. And you should. Who else will look out for you but yourself?

I know that's a cynical way of looking at people. Some people aren't like that. Some people are straightforward and innocent. They don't need a pretense, they are who they are. They're simple. But I can't help but see the world in any other way anymore, no matter how hard I try to rescue my naive and romantic self from the grasp of bitter reality.

I'm not a person who wants many friends. I can't keep up with many friends. For me, it's too tiring. Talking to people who I don't truly want to be with, who I don't know well, is tiring. All I need is a few close friends that feel like family. But for some reason, after I moved up to Auckland by myself, I got swept away by influence. By peer pressure. I felt the need to be happy in a way that I never desired before. I felt the need to make the most of this opportunity and make lots of new friends, start a new life. But it's not who I truly am. And the more I forced myself the unhappier I became, because it was all so tiring. I thought there was something wrong with me, someone I loved and trusted told me there was something wrong with me. But there isn't. I'm just different. I'm just me.

Reading those emails I sent to my best friend in high school, I wish I could have that back. That sort of safety when I had a small group of close friends and we supported each other throughout the simple ups and downs of school life. But then I remember that I've changed so much now that I wonder if we can ever be on the same page again.

I've met a lot of new people after leaving high school too. And of course I've tried. I've tried really, really hard. I put in all my effort into interacting with people to build new friendships. Because I was pressured into realising that you can't go through life being a loner. Humans are social creatures. No matter how much I didn't enjoy joining in the main crowd and casting my pride aside, I had to. To be successful meant partially, to be socially accepted and welcomed. So I tried really hard. I found people I liked and people I enjoyed surrounding myself with. I got brave enough to end something because I didn't love someone anymore, because it was wrong to keep on holding on for fear of being alone with no rock to depend on. I found people I genuinely believed were my friends. And I genuinely started believing that people are as simple as that.

But you know what I realised? Very few people are interested in you, unless you're interesting. Unless you persist, unless you're connected to someone interesting. So I changed to be different, strived to be less demure. And I like to believe that I really did build some solid friendships.

But, living alone has its perils. Especially for someone like me, who's naturally a loner. It makes you bitter a lot. It makes you want to be stronger and appear more independent, because you're afraid that deep down no one truly cares about you. That all these friendships are built upon fun and partying and pretense, who would truly be there if you need them to be? My family never seemed so far away. I tried to fill in that gaping hole with partying, with romance. But both never seem to stay long, and now I'm even more scared to genuinely open my trust and heart to other people.

It's funny that as a kid, I always craved physical and emotional independence from my family. Yet now, I've never wanted that emotional dependence more. Just to know that at least, my parents truly and genuinely care about me.

I wish that I'd done a better job at preserving the friendships I forged in the past. The ones who I slowly drifted out of sync, out of contact with. The ones I couldn't give up my pride for. The ones who were true friends, but I was too busy trying to change myself in a way I believed was good for me, to realise what I was losing.

I'm writing this because I'm suddenly filled with so much regret of things I could've done better. I know that by other people's standards, this isn't a big deal. Whatever. But I grew up with strong morals. I always felt like I have to be a person that I myself would respect. I don't really like the person I'm starting to become recently. But, this doesn't mean that I'm not happy. I have a future to look forward to. I'm also optimistic about the possibilities. Possibilities always cheer me up, and hopefully that ambition will lead me somewhere better. I think that me and Auckland just don't understand each other very well. We're not the same type of people. I'd like to hope that me and Melbourne are more compatible, that over there, I can stop feeling like I'm living in some sort of cage of forever interlinking connections and meaningless interactions.

I'm hopeful of the life that I could live. And although I have to once again force myself to be someone I'm not, to be what society deems to be a character worthy of success, maybe this time I force myself to change, it'll be one step closer to the simple happiness I want.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Something I've realised recently: believe in the beauty in things. Music is beautiful. Always. Friendship is beautiful, as long as you have faith in it. And emotions are beautiful because they make you a more beautiful person.

Caring sucks. Being emotional sucks. Not being able to control your decisions, your actions, your thoughts with a clear head and a rational perspective sucks. Letting your feelings control you is weak isn't it? It's pathetic. It's silly. We're silly. But you know what I've also realised? It's human. It's me. I feel and I care and I hurt because I'm human and weak. That's who I am. That's how I roll. That's what makes me who I am.

And yeah. Emotions are beautiful. Sure, they're lethal, dangerous. Vindictive. But beautiful. Think about it: people who feel, feel life. It's beautiful to care so much about something that it makes you shed a little tear late at night. It's beautiful to sometimes feel your heart squeeze into such anguish or euphoria that you've forgotten what's up or down, what's me and you, what's real and not. And it's always beautiful to be able to truly appreciate the little things in everyday. Like that small streak of sunlight stroking your arm. The way lightening lights up the sky like magic. Standing in the rain and feeling nothing but awe at how majestic the stormy city is from your tiny little balcony.

I remember I used to spend hours sitting on my balcony at dusk, staring at those endless rows of buildings rising and falling beyond my horizon, fascinated by the lives being lived out there; entranced by the beauty, the detail, the possibilities contained within that picturesque view.

I remember I used to sneak out onto the lawn on humid summer nights while my parents were asleep. I used to just stand there on the grass, barefooted under the moonlight, awestruck at how beautiful and lovely and comfortable the world was at this time.

And I remember the most clearly, those few rare moments that I've been able to lay in bed at the end of the day and say to myself with a simple smile, "This must be what happiness feels like."

All these silly, irrational and romantic little things define who I am. I like being me. I'm grateful I was lucky enough to be the silly, emotional and overtly romantic person that I am. I'm lucky I feel enough to care. It's not a weakness. It's not pathetic. Don't let anyone tell you that. Caring enough to hurt is what makes us sympathetic, empathetic. It's is what makes us love more, love better, love stronger. Sometimes it's what makes us good people. Because we care.

I care about my friends. I care about my parents, my grandma. I care about old ties and old times, places that changed me and that tiny little house on Kings Crescent. I also care about believing in things. Like the disheveled busker who gave me a polite "Thank you miss". Like the little old lady setting up the family business at dawn. Like the random stranger who smiled at me on the street.

The people in your life should make you a better person. This matters the most. To the people who have ever listened to what I had to say, who have genuinely cared about my hurt or let me care about your hurt. To the people who have inspired me to be a better person and convinced me to keep on fighting even when I couldn't see reason. Thank you. I read somewhere that one of the simplest steps to being happy is to show appreciation. Show gratitude. I'm grateful for everything I've been privileged enough to have, and I won't let any of it go to waste anymore.

To the person who will one day understand me, wholly, completely and unconditionally, I will find you. I know you've been waiting for me. Sorry it's taking so long. 6 billion people in the world and 197 countries you know, kind of a shitload of obstacles. But it's okay. I believe we're getting warmer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I miss somewhere that's not here

I miss China. I miss the smell of smoke intertwined with the chilly winter air, the familiar clanking of bells and unabashed shouts emitted from those early morning street vendors. I miss the way you'd hurriedly walk through some small dingy street paved with dirt and garbage, holding a mask over your face to partially shield yourself from the cold and partially from the smell of dog shit.

I miss the ruthlessness of the city. I miss being a part of the avalanche of people that push and struggle their way through the early morning commute, every man for themselves, every person from the little boy selling toys outside the metro entrance, to the richly dressed expat stepping past the beggars in his polished leather shoes, all hurriedly, hurriedly rushing to do what they had to do that day. Because the city had no mercy. The city had no room for moping, for indecision, for pride even. Everyone did what they had to, and they had no choice to question. You took what you could get.

I miss that feeling of revelation. The one that overwhelms you as you finally open your eyes to the truth of how the world is. In such an environment, silly thoughts seem unable to manifest - as if there was something in the air that killed unpracticality. Complicated layers of fears, desires and thoughts are reduced to the most primitive of needs: food, family, survival. Only if you're lucky enough to have that, you have the luxury of the worrying about the next layer.

I miss the contrast between the rich and the poor. A sheer display of power that the city had. Here, you could climb higher than anywhere else, or fall harder than you've ever fallen before. Fortunes change, lives change - it's a twisted game of roulette, isn't it?

And do you know what I loathe? I loathe this slow, gentle, lenient country. I hate how infuriatingly first world it is. I hate how infuriatingly first world the people and their problems are. I loathe the calmness. The non-existent pace of the city. I loathe how forgiving it is. Everyone does what they want do, and they question every choice. You get given everything served on a platter and you choose what you want to take. It's a buffet. Whereas somewhere else, there's rationing for every meal.

There's too much choice and too much luxury in this place. There's too much thinking that leads to too many delusional thoughts of what you believe would make you happy and what you believe you're entitled to have. Entitlement in itself is delusional. No one is entitled to anything. If every human is entitled to basic human rights, then why are there millions of humans in the world who aren't given a single chance in their lifetime to learn what those rights are?

All I know is that I have to survive the rationing before I can truly bask in the luxury of the buffet.

And who knows, one day in the future I might end up loathing those merciless cities, the sheer power they have, their ruthlessness.

One day I might miss this slow, gentle place and its lenience.

One day I might feel only the sweet here, see only the smaller picture.

One day I might say, "Hey, I'm entitled to have this".

But that's one day. Not today.