That time we bridged our long distance relationship

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After 58 long days of waiting, it was finally time to pick him up from the airport. It was way too long since we last saw each other, and what I really needed at that point in my semester was him by my side so that he could remedy all my stresses and sorrows with his hugs. By then, we had been Skyping nearly every night– probably because the distance was getting too overwhelming, and knowing that we were close to bridging our long distance relationship made us all the more impatient.

… And the day finally came. It felt surreal, much like it always does after an extended period of not seeing each other. We enveloped each other in the biggest hugs we could possibly give, and never let go of each other’s hands. This was going to be the most amazing 8 months together, because to me, 8 months of long distance definitely warranted 8 months of being together thereafter.

His return did not fall short of amazing. We spent every day together, from doing mundane things like errands, to taking road trips. We got to know each other and each other’s families better, and we spent a generous amount of time in deep conversations about anything and everything under the sun; sharing laughter and creating new memories together.

Two weeks later, I got a call from Astro Radio, offering me an internship position at their headquarters in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. I was ecstatic, of course. Astro Group is one of the biggest media conglomerates in the region, and to be offered any position with them is rarely ever heard of, so much so that when I brought this up to an administrative assistant in my university, they asked me if I was certain that I got it. Around the same time, my graduation problem solved itself; and I was slated to finish everything come June, and leave in early July.

But then, it dawned on me that this would mean I would be due to leave 6 months earlier than I had initially planned, and if you know me, you would know that things that do not go according to plan vex me. However, he was extremely supportive of me and was genuinely happy for my success, which is more than I could ever ask for.

Two months went by more quickly than I had ever imagined. In between, we got to share a lot of laughter and tears– and then reality dawned on us. I was leaving.

The morning of my departure was the toughest on the both of us. While this was an opportunity I was waiting for nearly my whole life, it was also difficult to part with my hometown that I have been familiar with for the past 23 years, and to leave the arms that I called home for 8 months. But we have to do what we have to do.

While we are still unsure of our plans together, we are working towards a common future. Such is the fate of us in long distance relationships– although the days in between feel like an eternity, we are indeed lucky to have met someone that is worth the wait, and until then– I will be waiting.

I am an INTJ with self-esteem issues

IMG_3084[1]A while ago, I wrote a little about my MBTI personality type; which is INTJ. INTJ stands for Introvert (I), Intuitive (N), Thinking (T), and Judging (J). I blogged about it and how it applies to me here. In its essence, being an INTJ means that I am what they call an ‘architect’ — a perfectionist, a control freak, someone who is extremely logical, and to a certain extent; even having a superiority complex over everyone else because of our high self-confidence.

For the most part, I think that this personality test describes me rather accurately, and out of the many times I have re-taken this test, it has yielded the same results. The only anomaly is the part about INTJs having high self-confidence, because I, like many others, suffer from deep-seated insecurities.

Of course, it is a given– everyone has insecurities; some bigger than others. As someone who has been labeled a perfectionist on many occasions, something that I struggle with is inadequacy. To see someone who strives in a field I am particularly weak at makes me feel inferior to everybody else. I do not discount my own abilities, but I find myself dwelling in the things that I cannot do. It brings me down, and I replay my shortcomings in my head countless times until it really gets to me. It doesn’t matter– it could be my physical capabilities, the way I look, writing, or my studies– once I feel inadequate, it becomes permanent.

It definitely does not help that I am very introspective. I think a lot. I am often lost in my own thoughts, and a lot of things are built in my head. It gets to a point where I find it difficult to accept compliments because of how absurd I think they sound in my head.

However, if there’s one thing that I learnt about confidence, is that no amount of praise from even the most significant person in your life can fix that for you. As cliched as it sounds, confidence comes from within. Our thoughts are a powerful thing– we are beings that are capable of thinking things into existence. Once you think that you are inadequate, you become inadequate, because you let that feeling manifest in your thoughts.

Every day is a struggle to feel like I am good enough, much like everyone else. I need to learn how to control my thoughts, but I am grateful for the people around me who remind me of my worth. Some days I believe them, some days I don’t. What is important, though, is that it does not reach a point where I become self-destructive; and nobody ever should get to that point because that is when you should seek help.

As for my MBTI– I believe that personality types are not a ‘one size fits all’ thing. There is no one type that perfectly encapsulates your personality; but it can come close. As for me, I am happy being an INTJ, regardless of the stigma and backlash surrounding it. After all, being an INTJ places me in the ranks of Jane Austen and C. S. Lewis– and that is the greatest honour of all.

Out with the old, in with the new

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The most bitter pill for me to swallow as a woman in my 20s is that the friends you grew up with are not necessarily the ones you will grow with; that at some point in your life, you will lose even the closest of friends.

I used to pride myself in having a close-knit group of friends from school whom I could brand as the sisters I never had. We were there for each other in times of joy and sorrow, love and heartache. However, all that changed when I was in my 20s, and I evolved into the person I am today. It was a painful realization– knowing that not all friends grow in the same pace and way you do, and that sometimes, the people we become are different from the ones they have become. And most of the time, no matter how hard you try to work towards bridging those differences, it just isn’t the same anymore.

What used to bond us like glue suddenly becomes superficial, and we find ourselves just reminiscing on old times when we are together. There is nothing new to talk about, because it is just so difficult to understand each other now. Our conversations are reduced to small talk, and there just isn’t any substance in the conversations.

I dwelled on this situation for a long time, wondering if there was anything I could do to repair the situation; but as time passed and conversations went by, I found that it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with these friendships, and I am sure that it was a mutual feeling. As much as it was a struggle for me to grapple with this harsh reality in the beginning, I realize now that sometimes, these things happen without reason or rhyme.

The one takeaway I have from all of this is that life is not static, and therefore, our relationships shouldn’t be as well. It is only natural for us to evolve and change, and not all of these changes can be readily accepted by others in the way we hope. If we give in to the fact that things should always remain the same, then there will be no room for self-improvement.

That’s life, isn’t it? We win friends, we lose friends. Ultimately, as long as you stay true to yourself and do not falter, you will find friends who will readily accept who you are, and who you choose to be. There will always be friends who cannot grow with you, but that is all right– remember the other friends who can, and be yourself.

This too shall pass

Jeepers creepers Recently, I’ve been stuck in a rut of sorts. You can read all about it here, if you haven’t already.

It has come to a point where everything I do just goes back to the fact that with every step I try to make forward, I am being pushed ten steps back by the repressive system.

Everything about this is exhausting. It was supposed to be my final semester, my final push– before I begin my foray into the real world.

Being someone who is prefers instant gratification, it frustrates me that I am unable to reap what I sow as soon as I had hoped.

It definitely does not help that I am still putting in more effort than people who will be graduating before me, all for the sake of good group assignment marks.

Through it all, the phrase that keeps repeating itself in my subconscious is “this too shall pass”. I know that I am not alone in this, I know that there are people who are facing similar issues, and these four words are a source of comfort for me.

So if you are feeling the crushing weight of your workload; remember– this too shall pass.

If you are facing your quarter-life crisis and are unsure of what lies ahead of you; remember– this too shall pass.

If you are filled with doubt, anxiety, and fear; remember– this too shall pass.

Putting my dreams on hold

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A little over two weeks ago, I flew to Kuala Lumpur from my humble hometown, Kuching for my first ever job interview. Granted, it was only for an internship, but the promise of a real job as I was entering into adulthood made every inch of me tingle with excitement. I had been waiting for far too long to kick start my dreams of being a writer, and I was finally bestowed the chance to, albeit only for an interview. It was with a start-up advertising company, and I was eager to work with them because they boast an impressive portfolio. The best part of it all was that they were looking for a copywriter– and they were interested in me.

Undoubtedly, I was nervous, but being with my long-distance boyfriend over that same weekend helped to alleviate whatever jitters I had. Zero Hour arrived, and I was a bundle of nerves. I prepared my own portfolio of articles I had written over the recent years, my academic transcript, and even equipped myself with pseudo-confidence I did not know I was capable of, but on the inside, I was nervous and praying that I would get the job.

Lo and behold, after an hour of being interviewed, I was hired. Finally, after years of craving independence and freedom from the prying eyes of everyone at home, I secured a job that I was very much interested in. I was ecstatic, but somehow doubtful at the same time. Was I ready to leave home? Was I ready to start the rest of my life? It didn’t matter. All the years of slaving in university and having to deal with difficult group members paid off. I was going to kick start my career, and it felt amazing.

Fast forward to about nearly a week later. It was a Tuesday evening, and I had just ended a long day of classes. Something struck me, and it dawned on me that I had forgotten something important. I rushed to the administrative office, told the staff about my problem, and after nearly breaking out into an argument with them, they realized that it was a genuine mistake. I had forgotten to register for the subject that my entire degree depended on– my Final Year Project.

I was told to return the next day with a letter of appeal, stating my intentions, and present it to the dean of my faculty. And that, I did. Fortunately, I was endorsed by the dean, the dean’s office, and I was supplemented with a memorandum and a personal e-mail from the dean himself to be sent to the student affairs division in my university. I was then told to await their phone call to see if my appeal was successful. I felt rather confident, since I have been consistently performing every semester, I have a (rather) good CGPA, and I had only missed the registration deadline by a week anyway.

What happened next is something I will never forget. My appeal was rejected. This meant that I had to extend my studies for another year, and that, consequently, meant that my entire future was put on hold. I could only graduate in November 2017. They did not even give me a valid reason for it, but what I found out was that it was too much for said department to open the e-registration system and deal with the paperwork come auditing. I was, without a shadow of a doubt, crushed.

I worked three long years to get to where I am today, with one of the highest CGPAs in my class. I have never missed an assignment deadline, and I have never failed a single paper. Yet, I was being penalized for one mistake simply because it was more important to avoid paperwork than to let a top student graduate on time.

The rollercoaster of emotions I felt over the next two days was the most polarized I have ever felt. Firstly, I was devastated. The moment I entered this university, I knew that I wanted to leave as soon as I could. I hate(d) it there, I hate(d) everything about it. I worked incredibly hard for three years, and because of one minor error, my dreams of graduating this November were dashed.

And then, I became angry. Angry that the system failed the people. This bureaucracy prioritized their workload over their students’ welfare. Was it really so important to avoid paperwork, and as a result, stop a first-class student from graduating on time? What the fuck. A lot of my anger also stemmed from the fact that it was so unfair that I, the one who picked everyone up for the past six semesters, would be left behind, and free-riders would graduate before I did.

I prayed for many nights to God so that He would grant me the strength to accept His fate for me. If I could not change the circumstances I was in, I at least needed to equip myself with emotional resilience. It took a few days, but I then realized that it was all for a reason. I have yet to see what that reason is, but I am sure that I will soon.

As soon as I heard the news, I devised a plan for myself for the next few months, perhaps even a year. Plans which will reveal itself in due time, but because I am naturally inclined to plan my life down to a T, I could not leave anything up to chance anymore.

Two weeks on, I am still trying to figure out what this all means. Maybe I wasn’t truly ready to leave. Maybe there is a mission for me here at home. Maybe I needed to repair a lot of my relationships before I leave. There are so many maybes, so much uncertainty.

Through it all, this has been an extremely humbling experience for me. I realize where I went wrong in all of this– letting my workload come in the way of me and my personal responsibilities, and allowing myself to be consumed with self-pity once I was told of my fate. I have, since then, felt different. I have a new resolve, and this saga makes me more determined than ever to achieve everything I’ve always wanted to achieve. It’s like dangling a piece of meat in front of an animal and then taking it away. At the end of all this, what I’ve developed (other than a deep hate and distrust towards my university) is the hunger and desire for what I want.

I will not let this break me. Not now, not ever.

Of learning that patience is a virtue

SkyThe last time I wrote anything was two months ago. I always tell people that writing is my first love, my true love; but nothing ever prepares me for the torrent of distractions that are hurled at me come the new semester. I am currently approaching Week 5 of my final semester, and it has been nothing but stressful, to say the least. Every day is a test of my patience, my emotional strength and my physical capabilities. I rarely ever get a night of uninterrupted sleep anymore because once I close my eyes, I feel guilty that I am not working. When I actually get to fall asleep, it is barely a deep sleep– I am merely drifting in and out of consciousness until my alarm rings. I forget to drink enough water regularly, and even forget to have my meals because I come home every day just to start work on everything I have to do.

Why is it such a struggle? People are going to argue that being a student is easy, and is more stress-free than the working world. Between co-directing a campaign, I find myself designing all the artwork with what little Adobe skills I have, manning the frontline, and making executive decisions for said campaign. I am also editing articles for my church youth group’s annual magazine, looking for internships and full-time employment, on top of fieldwork, academic essays, and my thesis. Every day, I question myself, “why does it have to be so difficult? I just want to graduate.”

The most important lesson that I am learning through this journey is that patience is a virtue. When my phone is ringing non-stop and I have to entertain inquiries even when I am busy, I learn patience, because they do not know any better. When my superiors are demanding for me to drop everything to make changes to my design on the spot even though I submitted them much earlier in advance, I learn patience, because they are my superiors and I am in no place to challenge their autonomy. When my group mates are not replying texts about assigned tasks and leave it all up to me, I learn patience, because this is nothing new to me anymore.

Normally, patience does not come easy to me. I am a person who prefers instant gratification– I work hard now, and I want to see results now. I do not enjoy waiting around for others, and I do not like it when people disrespect the time I invest into doing things. This whole ordeal is teaching me that sometimes, delayed gratification is the best reward to hard work; because sometimes, the richest and most plentiful harvest takes time to grow.

The best reminder comes from my favourite Bible verse that gets me through times like this, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people” (Colossians 3:23). In three months, this will all be over.