I think I haven’t been living for myself much at all. And it feels as though this is why I, or anyone who is in a similar situation, find it so difficult to be content with life. How far does the phrase, “there is a world bigger than ourselves” go? It sounds so selfish and wrong to make a decision that benefits you, yet it is at the expense of somebody else. At the same time, I feel as though I am not doing myself justice?

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Can’t help feeling so disappointed in the choices I’m making yet I’m not doing anything to change.

Down but not out?

Some days I feel like I can conquer anything, and some days I feel like the lousiest person on Earth.

I guess it’s only natural for us to feel this way; The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Balance only comes when we are allowed to feel both extremes, and it is through all of it that we grow. But somehow it’s so difficult to convince myself that the bad times will pass, even though I’m already sure it will, eventually.

I’ve been trying so hard to stay afloat, and I guess it’s true when they say that when it rains, it pours. I’ve lost my only outlet for stress when I broke my collarbone. I can’t train or run for the next two months or so. Even though I’ve accepted it, I don’t think I can get over it. It affects me daily, especially when the pain serves as a constant reminder of what I’m unable to do.

I feel so defeated and lost. I guess Judo served as an escape from the actual problems I had to face. Now that it’s gone, I’m forced to confront them.

The same problem has arose from my time in JC. I’m once again stuck in studying what I don’t feel anything for, and I know so much that I can’t force myself to do it no matter what. I’ve learnt recently that when it comes to the things I’m passionate about, I’ll give it my all, and that’s honestly something I want to pride myself in. But the real issue lies in the complete and utter lack of shit I give to things I don’t care for. For the rare occasions when my heart and mind are in sync, I know I’ll remain unfazed by anything. But what if my heart knows what it wants, and my mind tells me otherwise? Nothing is ever as clear-cut as it seems and in every decision you make, there are so so many things to consider. “Don’t think, just do,” was one advice given to me by a friend. And while that is certainly sound advice I ought to follow, am I able to ignore the little voices inside telling me that this isn’t right for me?

So many conflicting feelings and things unsaid that I don’t know how I can put into words. Feel so unsure of everything but even as I feel defeated, I refuse to admit defeat. Here’s to trusting myself  to take actions that would lead me in the right direction. And slowly but surely, I’ll get to where I want to be.

 

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Your comfort zone is such a dangerous place.  Sometimes it feels like perhaps most of us have never truly left there before, even though we make the conscious effort to. For this I can’t help but wonder if I’ve ever genuinely put in my best effort in anything before, cause it always feels like I give in to compromises in some way. How much is enough? What are my limits? Never considered myself a competitive person but would that be enough to justify my lack of drive? If it weren’t for winning, what do we fight for? Some might say we give it our all simply for self-improvement, and I do, too.  But how do we know that THAT is our best effort and we have not actually succumbed to our subconscious mind that tells us this is enough for our “self-proclaimed self-improvement” ? It’s 2.30am, maybe I’m not even making sense, but these are the thoughts that keep me up at night. 

I’ve also been thinking about the concept of fear. I’ve read somewhere before that if we aren’t afraid of death, we aren’t afraid of anything. I used to think that was true, but I’ve realised that what people fear more than death itself is pain and suffering. This leads me back to what I was harping on. I guess I’ve always had the fear of trying my best, although somehow I manage to convince myself all the time that I do indeed try my best. But it’s easy to tell yourself that, and to ignore that little nagging voice at the back of your head which says you’re lying to yourself. The fear of trying your best stems from the fear of pain/suffering. In that sense, isn’t pain such a powerful emotion/sensation? We can never avoid it, or truly love it, but we can learn to embrace and accept it. I guess experiences in life are there to teach you just how we can do that. And maybe we won’t ever get to that point of full acceptance, but the closer we are, the more invincible we become.

Privilege

A right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.

I don’t think I’ve thought about the concept of privilege very much. Well yes, I know I am privileged, and I’m constantly grateful for being so blessed – but is that enough? I guess I’ve always thought that being privileged wasn’t a bad thing as long as we never felt entitled or took things for granted. I get that we can’t change the circumstances we were born in, so being privileged should never be something to feel guilty over. However, it doesn’t stop there. Personally, I don’t think I have sufficiently tried to promote equity, or attempted to spread out privilege as much as I can. What use can simply being grateful do for anyone?

Visiting Pulau Ubin this weekend was an eye-opener. For a day, we lived like a villager, soaking in the kampong spirit.  We  also walked on muddy trails, showered from buckets, and were rendered helpless by mosquitoes. I wouldn’t say I missed home much, but what got me thinking was whether I could truly adapt to such a lifestyle in the long run, or would I be miserable? I would like to think it will be the former, but I haven’t tried it yet and I can’t help feeling guilty for being unsure. Maybe I’ve been appreciative, but I haven’t truly empathised and felt what it is like to be underprivileged in that sense. (Although that isn’t to say that a simple life isn’t a happy one, either.) I’ve never thought of myself as someone who’s ignorant, but I’ve come to understand there’s still so much I don’t know. For that, I am also really glad to have joined Eusoff Expeditions, where I’ll be spending two weeks in Prey Veng, Cambodia, soaking in the culture and living like the villagers there. Two weeks may not be long enough, but I hope it’s enough for me to delve further into the idea of privilege and what true and effective altruism is.

Finals end tomorrow and well, here we are again – at the end of the term. A lot has passed since the last time I posted and I guess it’s safe to say I’m not the same person I was then. Even though it has only been six short months, but we are, after all, in a constant state of change.

As much as it has been a rather rough journey, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Through the months I’ve lost and found myself again. In that process, I’ve forged a few new friendships, and lost a few friends (once again validating the fact that some people just aren’t meant to be in your lives). There were some things I definitely could have handled better, but if anything, one takeaway is that experience will always be the best teacher.

There were many other lessons, too, and just so I don’t ever forget them, let me pen them down here.

What I’ve learnt in 2016

  1. Good or bad, never be too quick to pass judgement on anyone. Always, always take your time to know someone.
  2. “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
  3. I’m most definitely not suited for communal living.
  4. There is such a thing as “being too nice”. (Though I still can’t seem to accept this.)
  5. Maybe we can’t be morally responsible for our actions, but we can and should take ownership for them. (Thank you Galen Strawson heh.)
  6. Never, ever take your family for granted.
  7. It’s strange, we’re a lot like chocolate lava cakes. We seem as though we’re keeping it together, but on the inside, it’s pretty much a mess. The good news, though? Everything is still pretty sweet.
  8. Most of our misery is self-inflicted.
  9. Maybe we can’t control the circumstances we’re in, but we can control the way we look at it.
  10. “20 ways to see the world, 20 ways to start a fight”.

This list isn’t complete, and I shall add on it if I think of anything along the way. But till then, here’s to a great last paper before I finally get down to doing the things I have been wanting to do.

Purpose

It’s easy to get caught into the flow of things without actually reflecting on the reasons behind whatever you’re doing. It has been eight weeks since the start of University and I’m still struggling to find meaning in everything that I do. I’m trapped in the same repetitive cycle, the very one I told myself to get away from at the end of JC. In a way, there is comfort and familiarity in routine, something that I’m addicted to especially when everything feels so new and foreign. The knowledge that every day will pass how it usually does, and the new day will bring about some kind of novelty and change that is still familiar.

But this wasn’t how I intended to walk this new journey, and I can’t help feeling disappointed in myself. Recently, I’ve been plagued by numerous insecurities, and my confidence level has plunged to a new low. I still haven’t found my place here, and I can’t seem to truly connect with anyone. Maybe I haven’t been putting in enough effort, but it’s hard to when everything feels so superficial at times, and I can’t find meaning in them.

I crave honest conversations. Why don’t people talk more about the things they are passionate in instead of what modules to take or how stressed out they are? Isn’t it pathetic how we have allowed our academics to take control of us? Do we not have interests or stories to share about ourselves? I do, but people don’t seem to care.

I’m tired of friendships predicated on physical distance. To be brutally honest, I’d rather not have them. So maybe I haven’t been making enough effort, but only because I can’t seem to find the potential in them.

Deep down, I think many of us share the same sentiments. Maybe it’s time we opened up to each other and build genuine bonds. We didn’t come here just to study, but to form connections, and create long-lasting memories. Come graduation, can we safely look back and recognise the fulfillment in those 4 years of NUS?

//Edit: Just glanced through my blog and I blogged about the exact same thing in my previous post. Perhaps it’s time to do something about it..