Choices

I asked my taxi driver, “NUS or NTU?”

“They’re almost the same yeah. Make your own choice.”

Ok then, Taxi Uncle. It doesn’t matter that my parents are pushing for NUS, and it doesn’t matter that my friends wasted their time convincing me that there’s no issue in me wanting NTU, and that I obviously want NTU. Taxi Uncle, I’ll listen to YOU.

What wants to go through, will go through. What doesn’t, won’t even if you spend 2 hrs crying at Pizza Hut. But thank you everyone around me for being honest with me. Even you, Mum and Dad. For a moment there I wanted a pretty lie. I wanted your support. But now I know to be worthy of your support, I have to be strong enough to deal with not having it.

Thank you, to the friend who couldn’t be completely honest with me. Who probably will always have that auto filter on and will never be able to tell me the cold hard truth, but will always be there to render support. It wasn’t complete honesty. But I know that it was integrity, and it was to as much capacity as you could manage, to not sugarcoat anything. Thank you for thinking the best of me.

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How blind Mankind is.

My sister bought me this book from her school trip to China. Don’t worry guys, it’s English. They have that in China too. It’s actually a lot cheaper, even in major bookstores there.

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I’m reading it on the mrt. It seems like between work and sleep and completely neccessary stoning, nowadays, I only have time to read when I’m travelling.

Anyways, Emily Dickinson. She lived 1830 to 86. 56 years of her life she was unknown. Her words, her thoughts, only listened to after she could no longer move her lips, no longer form new thoughts. No fame, no fortune. If there isn’t an afterlife, if her soul doesn’t know what she’s accomplished… if she wasn’t already dead, she’d die from the injustice.

It took 2 poems for me to realize how retarded people are to not have recognized such talent. I wouldn’t say it was genius. Because she uses simple words, honest thoughts, her point of view wasn’t new. It was just honest. It was just clarity. When you have a clear point of view and you are writing what you see of life, through the naked, unfiltered eye, when you are writing for yourself- that emotion? It cuts through.

I didn’t realize her verses were religious until I read the summary. Then I liked it even more. Isn’t it great when your work is so subtle that it can be related to by people from all walks of life?

But at the same time, this just shows how difficult it is to be a writer in this world. How many truly succeed? How many who succeed deserve success? How many who deserve success actually have their work made known? What are the chances that I coupd be either? What are the chances I could just be in the middle? Forgotten?

Suddenly Dickinson seems to be quite lucky.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind –

This is my favourite one so far. Poetry doesn’t have to be chim. Doesn’t have to rhyme. It just has to make you feel something.

Heart Break

I’ve never quite understood the concept of having your heart broken. I don’t think it’s the same but I have been devastated before. Reduced to nothing but a tiny girl crying, in front of a mirror, reminding myself of how ugly I look when I cry and how I need to stop. Giving myself a reason why I need to stop. No matter how shallow it is.

Who came up with this word? To describe this feeling as the complete shattering of your core, your source of life. To connect a person to your life and your future and have them abandon you. Dropping your hopes, ruining your plans, losing track of your sense of self… It’s all so melodramatic.

But I think the sad thing is, none of these people believe that they are being melodramatic. An even sadder thing is- and this is probably only a small percentage- that they are not being melodramatic. They are simply right.

A very patient friend once told me that it’s like studying hard for a history test and not getting the scores. Another answered, “I feel like I’m dying inside.”

And I know both of them are telling me the truth. The sinking feeling in your heart that pulls your chest closer to your gut. The way the ab muscles that you didn’t know you had pull in so tightly from the tenseness of your body that you feel like you’ve lost weight. I’ve felt that.

So what else is heartbreak? What other pain does it have to offer me that I have not experenced? How is it different from loss, or betrayal, or sadness, alienation, or just plain depression? What is it that leaves you completely broken and reduces you to nothing but an unrecognizably pathetic mess? What is so strong that it wrecks your circle of life?

And why? Why is it that the person who once made you the happiest, who gave you that radiant glow, made you feel like the luckiest person in the world… why were they the ones to pull you down to hell? The scariest things people do they do in the name of love. It’s that powerful. So this is all just very paradoxically perplexing to me. If love is so powerful, why didn’t it last? And if the reason why that person broke your heart was because it wasn’t true love, and he or she wasn’t “The One”, then why are you so badly hurt? Why are you heartbroken? Why is there heartbreak?

Nelson Mendela ploughed through twenty seven years in prison, but could not live with his wife for six months. That’s how difficult being together is. John Nash’s wife divorced and later reconciled with him after she stayed with him throughout his battle against mental illness. That’s how difficult being separated is.

I like the word ‘wonder’. I like to think of it the way Enid Blyton Fairytales describe intangibles, feelings and magic, like you can hold them in your hand and just stare at them in awe. Wonder, to me, comes in thin slices and slivers. And I think the greatest piece of wonder my mind accomodates is whether love is worth heartbreak.

But I know that answers to that question change with time.

I can look at the stars…πŸ’«

I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t love looking at stars. The SR football field probably has the most glorious view of the starry night sky in Singapore. Even if it is all just satellites.

Because of my name(Xin sounds like heart and star in chinese) family, friends, acquaintances like to label the stars and hearts as my ‘logo’ or my symbol. I don’t think there’s anything I love more than stargazing (maybe reading). Just soaking in the tranquility of the moment, feeling so so small and so insignificant in the universe. Feeling like there’s an endless limit to your reach. I love stars.

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Just not for me.

Stars twinkle obnoxiously, whether the nighy sky likes it or not. Stars shout “Look at me!” And scream to the heavens to announce their existence. Stars make everything else a backdrop. Stars make everything else fade away. Everyone loves stars. Everyone admires how pretty they are. Everyone wants to “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…” even though if a burning star was on the way to fly into their pocket they’d most likely start panicking before it even enters the atmosphere. Everyone refuses to acknowledge that they are just huge chunks of rocks floating about the universe, and insists that they are perfectly pointed 5 -sharp-sided shapes. Everyone sees what they want to see of stars.

I am not a star. With me, what you see is what you get. I don’t shine brightly. I never want all eyes on me. I don’t bask in attention and envy and admiration. I am just awkward. And blatantly honest. Sharp and blunt simultaneously. I fade into the background. I am comfortable here. And occassionally i overstep barriers. Occassionally.

I am what I am. Please don’t see more than that.

I feel pretty unpretty

This is one of my favourite Glee songs ever. The opening lines ‘I wish I could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty too.’ It’s selfish. It’s raw. That’s some honest, b****-slapping emotion right there.

I’ve never been the most confident person. I am hyper self aware. And I’ve never really felt pretty all the way through. Confidence is sexy. Maybe that’s why I have theΒ sex appeal of a baby penguin.

2 days ago we sent my sister off on a school trip to China. She is my polar opposite. I am pretty sure my parents would ask me to keep away from someone like her if she wasn’t my sister. She was always the prettier one. She had my Mum’s daintier features, and God knows where she got those genes but long legs, slight build, high metabolism. And growing up, she always made me feel awful about myself. Not because of what she had, but the way she criticized what I had. She never failed to remind me about how huge my thighs were, how my arms looked flabby in tank tops, how I had too young a face for my body. My short fingers, tiny feet, short legs, round nose. All that. And I used to let it get to me. So much that I wrote an essay in Primary school called “I hate my sister” and got an A plus from my drama teacher. I still let it get to me.

But I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t know what was going on. She was jealous about so many things. She worked so hard for everything she got- results, friends, dance, athletics, singing- she is all rounded. But things that got praises from our extended family- things like caring for people, writing emotional essays and understanding math came so easily to my brother and I. She struggled and cried through nights about her Math homework. While I stood up to my teachers and wrote complaint letters to the school, she spent her time hoping for her teachers to like her so she could score leadership positions. And it must suck because my brother and I, we’ve never genuinely wanted good grades for us. We were always just doing what our parents told us to do- get good grades, get rewards. Get bad grades, get punishment. And she was built in, wired for success, she was always going for the gold.

But she was doing well in school- something that was expected of all of us. Our parents would credit her for hard work and results. But that was all. In due time, they will be proud of what she’s accomplished. But that only lasts so long. When your parents are proud of who you are as a person, the security derived from that pride is what every child wants to feel. And she has never understood why she doesnt get as much from what she’s put in as we do, and how it’s so unfair that she’s never felt that pride from her own family. I’ll admit, me complaining about her all the time doesn’t help. But that doesn’t mean it’s not what she deserves. The thing is, my sister is kind hearted. But selfish, yes, and not particularly nice or soft hearted. And the kind of emotional bond and closeness you can share with a mother who is emotional and a father who is soft hearted can only go so far when you are neither. She is more than my brother and I have ever been. The best looking too. But she must feel so lonely, like no one understands her. Even though she’s too proud to admit it.

When I think about this, letting the things she says make me feel insecure almost seems laughable.

On the day she left for China, I tried out the Snapchat filters she taught me to use. One of them was the one that shaped any face to look gorgeous.

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I’ve never liked my nose. But this filter skims the sides down and makes everything look ok. And that made me wonder- is that why girls go for plastic surgery? The temptation of feeling and looking like that ?

Substance comes over beauty they say. But if you can have both, why not? That’s an intriguing thought, though I would never do that to myself.

I’m just saying that I understand the temptation of looking pretty to feel pretty.

Before 3pm.

Before 3pm there’s a lot I can do. I could go for my nephew’s full month party, I could sit there like an awkward turtle, and watch children scampering around, screaming with joy. I’m not opposed to that. I’m not repelled by that, and usually I might even enjoy that.

But after a midnight shift last night? Before 3pm I can do a lot of things. And I don’t expect you to understand, Dad, but I want to do nothing. I want to sleep.

After an 8.5 hr shift, with the 1st 3 hours having been with a co-worker who was just as sick as I was and still am, I am going to sleep. And get rid of this flu.

And I’m sorry if that disappoints you. But my eyes can’t even open wide enough to see how angry you are. Love you, Dad. But I don’t have the emotional connection you do to your side of thr family. In terms of interaction they’re acquaintances to me. And I understand that you don’t have to like your family. You just have to love them. And I do.πŸ’•

And on a day where I don’t feel like I’m half dead and can’t breathe, I’ll show itπŸ‘πŸ˜§

I loved it.

I woke up with 2 missed calls from a number that looked familiar. But I didn’t recognize it without my contact list. I dialed back and apparently it was my Mum’s office number.πŸ˜‚

“Happy Birthday, baby girl!” she said. “Your gift is on the side table next to my dressing table.”

It was a bracelet. Gold in colour, the kind that looped around your finger then chained around your wrist, connected a
by a vertical gold chain with little baubles. I like that word. Baubles. The kind with a slightly elevated coachella vibe than the silver and turqouise beachy bracelets and tribal-ish jewellery I usually wear. I don’t usually wear rings because my fingers are short and fat, and my ring size (17-18) is huge for a girl. (Don’t let tiny hands fool you) But the chain loop sat perfectly on my finger and draped down the right way. And I like to think that the daintinesss of it offsets my awkwardness. I felt happy. This was a good start for 19😊

Because Mums always know. What’s best for you before you even think to consider it. (I’m still not gonna consider accounting though, sorry Mum)

There was no card. My Dad forgot to take out the receipt.

I loved it. I know I do. And I am very happy. In fact I caught a glimpse of myself smiling in the mirror and in all my teenage years I’ve never looked more like a child.

But I can’t help thinking that having a few points less for A Levels, this birthday would have gone very differently.

Wrong Answer.

Am I short or tall?

Short.

Am I stubborn?

Yes.

Am I an extrovert or an introvert?
Am I empathetic or apathetic?
Am I polite or rude?
Am I smart or dumb?
Am I demure or slutty?
Am I gentle or rough?

You are wrong.

I have never been perfectly extreme, no matter the circumstance. As pathetic as this sounds, I have always been stuck in the middle making things through. I smile a lot. I cry a lot. I am balanced. I am balance.

People use other people as indicators of how to organize themselves. You don’t know me. You don’t know how I feel. You don’t see when I smile with all the four dimples I have and show a full fromt row of teeth that I’m pushing myself to do it. You don’t see when I am stressed or frustrated or when I am hurt or upset. I am an open book, as much as you are one. Most people are just not very good readers.

You could be one of my closest friends. But you don’t know me that well.

And it’s not because we haven’t taken the effort to know each other. Timing. Opportunity. We spent time together when we had time to spend together- when we were finally ok. Maybe there was nothing left but a few pieces to pick up. A few pieces that are easily picked up.

But I have never expected anyone to read me like a book the way I analyze everyone else. Honestly, I don’t always know what I want either, and the thing is, everyone and anyone can tell you what you need before you want it. Someone who knows what you want before you want it? That is one in a million.

I rarely fit in 1 category. I think that’s why I’ve always felt separated from the rest of the world. Whether it’s living in my own head, my own space and bubble, or forcing myself to be extroverted, I got through that, pushed myself to be a balance. And I pride myself with the person I am now. Someone not that hard to read, but difficult to understand.

By the way, I am an introverted extrovert. Like I said, I’m stuck in the middle.