30. One step at a time

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote here. I’m sitting down on my chair writing here today because I needed to intentionally make a space for me to reflect on the changes that occurred since the past 2 months.

When COVID-19 first started spreading across the United States, colleges and universities begin taking initiatives to transition into remote learning. Every college in the NESCAC followed suit except Bates because of our unique academic calendar where we do not have a spring break. There was a divide between those who supports remote learning and those who wanted to finish the semester on campus among the students. That week happened so fast, suddenly, all large gatherings were cancelled, all tableware were changed to disposable ones, all food were served by dining staff only. March 12, the day the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Auburn, Maine was announced. Everyone predicted what would happen, but instead of acting like a grown adult and adjust to the situation, a bunch of kids from my college acted irrationally and held a large party on the football field that night, but that’s a story for another day.

I knew what was coming. The next day I wore my favourite sweater, went to class with my head held high,  and to my dismay, at 10 am when the college-wide email asking us to pack our items and leave college in 4 days was sent out by the president, I broke down. My anxiety was at its peak on this very day. People who knows me well enough, knows that home to me is a feeling and not a physical place, and that I don’t feel at home when I’m back at my house. Being asked to leave my college and the people I feel supported and loved by is the most hurtful thing one can do to me.

But I wasn’t raised to be weak. At least that’s what my dad told me. After that broke down, I stood back up. I’m already 2/3 into my semester and because I started out strong, I’m going to end it strong.

After my last online class for winter semester of my sophomore year, I tried to continue being that productive and organized student that I always was—made my own schedule after finals, signed up for online classes, picked up new skills…. It only lasted for a couple of days. One day, I just woke up and felt like laying there in bed until the sky gets dark. I’m no more that girl who used to wake up as early as 7 am on a weekend to get a yummy breakfast with a nice cup of coffee to kickoff my day.  I’ve always been an optimistic person, finding altruism in every little thing, but now there’s a voice in me saying, “What’s the point of working so hard? Look at all the tears and sweat you put in the past 3 months. They are gone.”

My one-month trip to Alaska as a research assistant that I have waited for 2 years was cancelled.

My two-month summer research in a neuroscience lab at my college was cancelled.

My study abroad semester at Geneva, Switzerland in a neuroscience lab? Uncertain.

Going back home to Malaysia? Uncertain.

I tried holding back any emotions I had every time I received an unfortunate news. I told myself that what I’m currently experiencing is nothing compared to those suffering right now due to the pandemic. I am privileged enough to have a bed to sleep on, a kitchen to express my creativity. Be grateful.

This did more harm than good on my mental state. How can one be grateful without validating one’s own feelings and emotions? This was never a competition on who has it worse. Feelings and emotions are inevitable and what I needed was a space for me to express how I feel. And for now, this is the space I’ve got. The walls in the house I live in are too thin for me to be fully vulnerable with myself.

One step at a time, I told myself.

 

29. Dinner Table Series “Fresh”

It’s been a while since I last blogged, as I was busy adjusting to college and living so far away from home. I participated in a Dinner Table event, where students sit across several dinner tables to tell a story based on the prompts given beforehand. Our first Dinner Table prompt was “Fresh”. It was really interesting to see most of the people interpreting fresh as a new beginning in life, and a form of feeling after stepping out of their comfort zone. If I was the last to present, I would’ve probably changed my entire story to fit the theme of how others interpret the word. I’m glad I was the first.


“For me, when I think about the word Fresh, I immediately envision a sort of fruit, with fresh water droplets on it, as if they were just picked from the farm. With a glowing halo surrounding it. One fruit in particular that I associate fresh with is avocados.

Fresh avocados are always so near yet so far. I’ve always looked at avocados as if they were angels or goddesses, not because I love the taste of it, but because they looked so luxurious and I never got a chance to physically touch it for years.

I was a sports enthusiast and I love watching videos and pictures of these toned and thicc American female gym trainers doing workout or prepping their pre-workout or post-workout meals. As a kid, I was so ready to be like them, a social media influencer in the wellness industry. Then I realized I can never be like them, because I always lack that ONE fruit that EVERY one of them puts in their meals—Avocados. Fresh Avocados. While I tried searching for that ultimate fruit in the market, I faced one of the most heartbreaking news of my life as a young kid. I could never be like those on America’s next top model or Victoria Secret fashion show, because I couldn’t afford avocados. One tiny avocado could buy a meal at that time. My dad has 6 of us and a forever-hungry dog to feed, who has time for avocados? Note that the avocados in the market weren’t that pretty either. They do not look as great as those I saw in YouTube videos.

That dream that seemed so fresh has lost its glow. At one point, I even resented Asian food, having so much oil in them, unlike that fresh and healthy avocado. Weird isn’t it? How such tiny fruit in other people’s life can be such a dream to others on the other side of the world.

I got a taste of my first avocado at the age of 18 when I studied abroad. That moment is still fresh in my memory. Not because I thought I was in heaven, but my instant reaction was “oh, this is avocado?” it tasted great, but maybe me worshipping over it might be too over the top. Don’t get me wrong, I still like fresh avocados, but maybe I could replace them with some avocardios instead to keep myself in shape. Hashtag pun intended. “

 

27. Birth of a new country.

On the 10th of May 2018, a historical moment was made in Malaysia. The opposition coalition, The Alliance of Hope, has won majority seats for the first time in the 14th General Election since its independence 61 years ago, whereby the ruling party, Barisan National has been in power since.

I wished I was home to celebrate this moment with my family, friends and my siblings of different colours, but because of my ongoing IB exams, I can only show my love and support for the country through a 14-inch screen. To be honest, I have never imagined that this day would come and I have to admit that I did had some resentments against my own country, a country often associated with corruption and scandals. There’s always this feeling of embarrassment when someone asks me about the political structure of my country, and why people still support the government despite these issues. I never have a direct answer to that and till this day I still don’t, but what really matter is that this is the past, and we have better things to worry about now, because we have a new government. Change is real.

To have a better understanding of what the couple, the ex-prime minister and his wife, has done, here’s a (pretty long but) insightful post by his step daughter.

*Aesthetic doctors refer to beautician, hairstylist and cosmetic surgery

yes, our previous government hired witch doctors (bomoh) to find our missing MH370, you can read it here at TheStar:
Missing MH370: Bomoh uses ‘magic carpet’ to find Boeing

and here is some context about the 1MDB scandal in less than 4 minutes by Wall Street Journal: 
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World

Although I was being separated by the laptop screen while watching live posts and news happening in Malaysia during the counting process, my heart and my nation are not. It’s such a heartwarming scene to see everyone united, to fight (peacefully) for justice, and for the future of Malaysia. Be it uniting one last time the night before the general election to encourage every single citizen, or snatching the fake ballot boxes from the police and running away with it (to who knows where haha), or gathering late at night to block the election committee officers from leaving until they sign off the form 14. However, it touches my heart and at the same time breaks my heart, that a 92-year-old man and his loving wife have to sacrifice their golden years to rebuild the nation for the people. Yet, this gives me hope and all the more reason I should step up my game and contribute my part to the country instead of running away, and the phrase that I always used in my Bahasa Malaysia essays has finally made sense to me, “pemudi harapan bangsa, pemuda tiang negara.” (youth (females) are the hope of the people, and youth (males) are the pillar of the country).

Hence, I am extremely grateful for those who voted & gave us, the younger generations a new and hopeful country to live in. I can’t wait to go back home to a promising country in a few weeks. We might not know what it means (refer to picture), but we sure know it’s for the better.

joke

more at: Business Insider, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times

26. A Poem: Rush

Choice

10, 9, 8…

in my hands lie the team’s fate.

suffocated by my ceaseless panting

and a responsibility I’m not capable of handling.

 

7 seconds left on the clock,

I’m hindered by shock.

too many commands,

too many hopes in the stands.

 

A sudden rush of adrenaline

impeded me to imagine

the right move against our rival

that will seek approval.

 

pass? shoot? dribble?

every move is possible

of devastating the team’s dream

of dimming the team’s gleam.

 

Similar to the reality we have to upstand,

sometimes we win and

sometimes we lose,

we don’t get to choose.

 

Sometimes a little luck is needed,

and setbacks cannot be evaded.

Not everyone we can please,

but never let it lose your ease.

 

via Daily Prompt: Rush