Week 11: Rejuvenation

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ve had a good week. ūüôā

I had a great time last week. I was invited to attend Penn’s Women of Colour luncheon last Friday. It was really encouraging to see that Penn had an event like this, celebrating accomplishments of coloured women and acknowledging the efforts being made in bettering the lives of our communities.

There were speeches by Hispanic, Asian, African American and Native students. They were pretty good but I didn’t have my pen and journal with me, so I could only sneakily type brief snippets of notes on my phone. This is a tidied-up version, if you care for it:

  • There’s a Mayan saying that goes, “I am the other you” which speaks to how when you respect/love/care for me, you’re also caring about yourself and vice versa
  • It doesn’t matter where you are, there is something you can do for your community
  • Many people have created legacies of creating something from nothing
  • You can affect change in the hearts and minds of others¬†when you feel empowered
  • Be the voice for people with a silenced history

It’s kind of cheesy I guess, and if you’re not “into” this sort of things, I can see how you think it is. But as I firmly believe, there is nothing bad about being able to see beauty in and draw inspiration from the¬†cheesy¬†things.

I also am part of a team that organised a dialogue event last week. We talked about the experience of minorities in college and the conversation touched on quite a number of things: the process of getting into college and what factors play a part in that, opinions on affirmative action, how easy/difficult the college experience can be depending on the background¬†you come from, etc. How it works is that usually, 2-3 people would moderate the¬†discussion by asking open-ended questions and people chime in with their experiences and opinions. I can’t and won’t say much because I respect that space so much and would not talk so openly about what people shared with everyone in the room that day. But what I appreciate about these events is when people warmly open up to share¬†their stories, I think they provide empathy and strength to people listening without even realising it and to me,¬†that’s such a generous act. On the other end, when people thoughtfully listen to others, it’s a sign of respect/solidarity somewhat (?) and I think that’s just really cool.

There were over 50 people at the Pan Asian American Community House ūüôā

It really warmed my heart to see the room fill up with people ready to engage by sharing their stories and listen to other people talk about their experiences. Despite being on the team that does research on the topic, comes up with the questions and has a run through of the discussion before the event, I always learn so much from everyone and I always find it a, for lack of a better word at the moment, rejuvenating experience and I am so glad to be a part of this.

Another cool thing that happened this week was I got to meet Omi Vaidya! If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he played Chatur Ramalingam “The Silencer” in Aamir Khan’s Bollywood film, 3 Idiots. He was speaking at Penn as part of the South Asian Society’s Symposium for the Awareness of South Asian Issues. He mentioned how great it was to work on 3 Idiots. He also talked about his experience being on The Office.¬†But mostly he spoke about being South Asian in America; about coping with¬†discrimination/bullying in¬†a constructive way, how being Indian American meant that he felt he belonged in neither India nor America and how he navigated a discovery of his identity. He also spoke¬†briefly about how he plans to use his craft to tell important stories about people in his community. Currently, he¬†wants to produce¬†a movie about Dalip Singh Saund to tell the story of the first Asian American member of the U.S. Congress. I am so grateful to have been able to meet him. He was warm and funny in person, and I just had a great time.

So yeah, this week has been pretty¬†good for me. My sister has been in town since the weekend! We’ve just been going around campus, watching TV, baking, cooking, shopping and making short excursions in the nearby area because I have classes this week. This is the reason I had to do so much work during spring break! Because I just have done¬†so little work this week, since I just wanna go out and enjoy myself now that my sister is here.¬†We are heading up to New York City tomorrow and I’m really excited about that, so I’ll write all about it next week ūüôā until then!

Week 10: “Birds Don’t Just Fly, They Fall Down and Get Up”

The title quote is from a line in Shakira’s song¬†Try Everything, which is¬†on the soundtrack of Zootopia. This line made it into my journal because I love finding inspiration from pop songs which are usually thought of as being vapid and built on trite lyrics. I think it’s cool to find awe in little things.

It got me thinking about how we always say things and underestimate the effect it has on people. Like for example, while I was cooking lunch earlier, I found myself laughing because I suddenly remembered an old funny story told by one of my parents’ friends. Yesterday, I saw a quote in a dorm hallway that literally just said “enjoy every sunset, look forward to every sunrise” and I thought oh my god that’s beautiful because really every dark night is just an intermission between beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

I don’t think the RA who put the quote up meant for it to be so deep or to be interpreted too much, it was just a beach-themed dorm floor but he/she gave me a nice thought. I don’t think my parents’ friend (whose name I can’t even remember) thought his story would continue to occasionally make me laugh for the next 10+ years, but it really does. I don’t know what my point is here exactly… I guess, they don’t see¬†how the little things they did would have an effect (and in this case, a good one) on someone like me, and it’s just a little reminder for me to always put good things out there in the world because you don’t know who it’ll reach and in what ways. ūüôā

Anyway, moving on from my¬†sappy life-lessony musings, today has been the first day back to classes after nine beautiful,¬†blissful and restful days. I’ll admit my limbs felt a little heavier today getting out of bed. It didn’t help that we just started daylight savings and it was raining outside. As Professor Cole said this morning,¬†“it’s quite a cruel combination.” Nevertheless, everything will¬†be okay. I’ve hit the halfway mark of what seems to be a marathon of a semester, I finally secured a summer job (!!!!!) and I’m well ahead in terms of my workload.

Ahhh, but break was so¬†good, you guys. I didn’t even leave Philadelphia for any part of it. My break was mostly spent working out daily, cleaning the apartment and doing 1.5-weeks worth of work.

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 preset

Thanks to May May for lending me her home workout equipment so I could do Barre at home!

IMG_0122

Hundddddreds of pages of readings…

But, of course, the funnest part for me was experimenting in the kitchen!!!

Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset

Ingredients for my smoothie.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

IMG_0142

This is what you get when you save pictures from Snapchat: blurry pictures.

IMG_0143

Spicy tuna. Emphasis on spicy.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

My tuna salad and raspberry/blueberry smoothie.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Cucur udang/ikan bilis ūüėÄ

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Cod marinated with lime and coriander overnight.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Pan-frying them with onions and tomatoes.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

It doesn’t look great but it tasted pretty good!

IMG_0127

Buttered rice with lime and coriander.

IMG_3112

Coriander with tomatoes and onions. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I was trying to use up a huge bunch of coriander because I didn’t want to waste them!)

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

All together!

I also managed to spend time with some friends and walk into the city when I got restless ūüôā

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Finally made a trip to Bluestone Lane.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

The interior is super homey.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Flat whites >>

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Because the coffee cup fit my colour scheme.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Stumbling across a playground on the walk home from the city.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Joanna and I watched Zootopia together – it was a great movie and so much fun, go watch it!!

Processed with VSCOcam with 1 preset

Found a balcony to look over the city (outside the trash room LOL).

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Brunched with Claire. The fruit with honey and granola was so good.

IMG_0125

Warmer weather necessitates popsicles, and popsicles necessitate selfies.

Okay, I think that was probably the most number of pictures I’ve included in one post so far. But yeah, I’m actually quite pleased with how I spent my break. It was productive and healthy and I had fun. It makes me feel more like I am¬†the person I want to be. But really the reason I stayed in is my sister is visiting me next week!!! That’s mostly why I needed to get work out of the way. I’m really excited to have family around and for the¬†trip we’re going to take ūüôā 5 and a half days to go!

Until then. ‚̧

Once All The Dust Has Cleared / The Whole Is Greater Than All Of Its Parts

One of my goals last Fall¬†was to keep this blog running throughout the 16 weeks of the semester, and I’m so glad I did it. I think those 16 weeks were¬†better because every week I forced myself to regroup and take a step back from it all to tell you about it. It helped me gained distance and perspective quicker and at the same time keep track of my progress. I am writing now at the tail end of winter break because I kind of want to have closure on the last semester now that it has disappeared¬†in my rearview mirror.

I think we all get so caught up in the semester that it can be tough to realise what’s going on until it’s all kind of settled, or like one of the Political Science TAs said, it’s hard to appreciate what we’ve learned until all the dust has cleared.

Now that I’ve gotten all my grades, had a chance to talk to family and friends about my semester and go over my past 16 posts,¬†I’m starting to see how junior fall has been¬†the¬†best semester I’ve had at Penn. I’m not sure why. It could be that this was the easiest course load I’ve had since freshman fall, that I’ve made some of the best friendships of my life, that I¬†love my¬†off-campus living arrangement this year, that I’ve gotten more used to being at Penn… but most likely it is some combination of all of the above.

At the start of the semester I wrote about what a struggle it can be to feel comfortable and at home at Penn. Yet,¬†here I am, on a warm afternoon in my house in Malaysia, basking in¬†the irony of¬†the fact that I am living out of a suitcase (3 suitcases actually, haha). This will always be home to me, but finding my closet empty and not having my own set of house keys forces¬†me to appreciate the fact that this in-limbo¬†period of my life is one of the braver things I’ve done. Sure, that will be hard to remember when I’m on the¬†20-hour journey to Philadelphia, eyes swollen from tears and arid¬†from cabin air, but I know I have the resilience to¬†continue doing¬†things that scare me.

If I learned one thing this semester, it is that some of the scariest things I dare to undertake are the most rewarding. I wage wars in my head between feeling incapable and worrying¬†that I am wasting whatever potential I have. The ability and the will to¬†break down the things¬†that scare me and go at them one piece at a time is the peace-deal that I feel assuages and reconciles both sides. This semester my little pieces have appeared in the form of one midterm in a 16-week course, one cover letter in a series of job applications, one box¬†in a crossword¬†puzzle, one push-up at the gym and so many more. Yeah, I know, it’s insanely cheesy but all of these daily life things just now seem so¬†rewarding… and it’s not because I get the grade or the position or the job or whatever the “prize” is at the end (because God knows a lot of times I don’t win) but it’s rewarding to know that I have what it takes to push through.

Spring ’16 is going to be tougher, but I’m going to start a new semester all over again one day and one week at a time–thinking about the course load, goals and responsibilities I have ahead of me makes me chuckle a little in sheer nervousness because I honestly can’t wait to see how I make it through this one and, if you still want to listen, tell you about all the little pieces on the way.

Week 16: Finals

I’m so thankful to be in such good health this finals season. Last semester, I had a wisdom tooth extraction around this time and it was awful. Also, last weekend, I had such a terrible cold. I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to study properly for finals what with being sick and all, but I’m all good now, alhamdulillah. On Friday night, I slept for like 14 hours. It was insane, even I couldn’t believe how tired and sick I was.

But my friends were so great to me while I wasn’t feeling well!! Hui Jie got me cough drops and kept me company at home. Cristina also came by with a wonderful care package consisting of flowers, honey, lemon and camomile tea.

These were such a delight to have when I was sick.

So yeah. I can hardly believe we’re at the end of the semester! There were definitely times where the semester seemed to be endless. Yet, here we are. My last day of classes for the Fall semester was yesterday, and it’s officially finals season. We have Wednesday and Thursday off for what we call “reading days”‚ÄĒtime to prepare for final exams‚ÄĒand finals start on Friday.

It’s been pretty busy, I guess. Nothing really interesting has happened. Regular end of the year stuff, like for example, a lot of the club boards are turning over during this time. The board for the dialogue group I’ve mentioned before, Sangam, just ended our “term” or whatever you call it. I decided to reapply, so I’m still going to be doing that next semester ūüôā the outgoing and incoming boards got to meet last week, and we made posters for the newbies! I’m a little sad that I’ll no longer be working with the old board. Andrew was such a good president and I think he leaves big shoes to fill. However, I’m also excited to work with the new board – they all seem really wonderful and I’m genuinely excited to get to know them better over the next year.

Also, this time of year means people are starting to look for summer internships. Eek. I needed to write a cover letter for an application this past¬†week and it was so difficult. I had to like… talk about what I’m good at… and why they should pick me… when I honestly don’t think I’m good at anything and don’t know why they should pick me.

It’s just really frustrating to feel like I don’t have a selling point despite being at a good university. It’s also frustrating because I’m not sure if that’s the problem or if the problem is that I don’t know how to see myself in a good light. There are definitely moments when I wonder if I’ve spent my whole life pushing myself by being too harsh, to the point that I don’t even know how to objectively evaluate myself anymore.

Sitting at the coffee shop trying to write the cover letter was kinda agonising. It made me want to change my mind and not apply at all, because why bother? But then I remembered how I’ve always believed that courage is deliberate, not the default. So I decided I’m going to go ahead with¬†it anyway because I can’t just stick to¬†doing things I’m already comfortable doing and I need to actively be exercising bravery.

On a lighter note, however (!) I bought a new pair of ~girlfriend~ jeans during the sales on Thanksgiving weekend and they just got in a few days ago. I absolutely love them!

I wore them today to the Tea House event. Four of the cultural groups at Penn (Malaysians at Penn, Chinese Students’ Associations, Hong Kong Student Association and South Asia Society) came together to have a tea-themed “study break” where people could stop by and take a break from studying to drink tea, meet new people etc. It was really fun because I got to meet some friends I haven’t seen in a while and lots of new people. I also met two freshman girls who are¬†actually half Malaysian! They were really sweet and I was really happy that they stopped by–I can’t believe I hadn’t met them before today.

Meerie, one of the girls I met today, making teh tarik with our makeshift teh tarik kit, haha.

So that was my week! Largely uneventful, but still a good one. Guess I have to quit procrastinating and get started studying now ūüė¶ bye for now until next semester!

Week 14: My Brain and My Bones, My Family and My Home

I am so thankful for Thanksgiving break, because it has been 7 weeks since we’ve had any sort of holiday. The past few days were pretty rough–churning out papers, marathon-studying for exams… but I soldiered on and made it through with lots of support from friends and a solid intake of caffeine.

Thanksgiving weekend also means I got to spend time with a lot of my wonderful friends over amazing food. After a week of a constant stream of horrible news in the media, it is empowering to continue with life normally and treat acts of normalcy as triumphs. I am¬†so¬†thankful to have such a good network of friends here who are always looking out for each other and ready to support one another. I grew up being very close to my sisters and cousins, and even though this isn’t quite the same thing, it comes rather close. In fact, it’s more than I ever dared to hope for when I first stepped onto Penn’s campus over 2 years ago.

IMG_0571

Girls’ Night dinner at Sofia’s earlier this week. People started to slip into carb attacks from her wonderful spread which included: rice, lentil curry, bread sticks, mashed sweet potato, mashed normal potato and vanilla cake ūüėÄ

IMG_9494

Malaysians at Penn/Club Singapore potluck. It was really good to hear accents and dialects familiar to my ears and to hang out with this brilliant, hilarious bunch of people.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 23.51.57

Hui Jie and I matched: blue/white sweaters, gummy smiles.

IMG_0556

Coconut cupcakes baked by May May and I, frosting by Hui Jie for the MAP-ClubSG potluck (although to be honest, most of the credit goes to them, I just offered my kitchen/oven and did the cleaning after hehe).

IMG_0612

MSA Thanksgiving Dinner. I made people take a “family portrait” because photos are so integral to our¬†raya/other celebratory¬†gatherings back home that I just felt the night would be incomplete without it.

IMG_0598

It felt like a real family thing because people were just chilling and doing their own thing, and because there were 2 sets of siblings present. It really reminded me of being with my cousins.

I’m also looking forward to a lot of down time on my own this break. Sure, my Friday is probably going to be taken up by review sheets and pages and pages of¬†political science readings… but I’m also burning through Mindy Kaling’s new book which is a really fun read.

I’ve also gotten the chance to re-watch some of my all time favourite movies. If anyone knows me, they’d know that I have a long list of movies but always just end up re-watching Princess Diaries, Big Hero 6, High School Musical, the first/last Harry Potter movies, Kung Fu Panda 2, Pitch Perfect and sometimes also Enchanted and Hairspray. I know, basically just musicals and children’s movies. What can I say? I like what I like.

Anyway, so, I was watching Princess Diaries last night and it’s amazing how I can still draw inspiration from it even though it came out over 14 years ago. It’s also amazing how Anne Hathaway hasn’t seemed to age very much.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 00.11.29.png

This scene where she’s talking to her grandma about how she¬†doesn’t think she can be a princess used to be whatever to me when I was 8 but now that I’ve grown up, it always makes me cry. Like, ugly-sobbing, straight up bawling type cry. It is just such a relatable feeling–thinking that I am not qualified, that I am not the right person for something, that I don’t have what it takes¬†despite¬†having people believing in me. And then she starts packing to run away… but this being a movie and all, she just happens to find her father’s letter as she’s preparing to leave. And that letter just makes me disintegrate into tears:

“Amelia, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. From now on, you will be travelling the road between who you think you are and who you can be–the key is to allow yourself to make the journey.”

SO GOOD, RIGHT? I can’t believe this loaded piece of wisdom has been getting past me for the past 14 years.

It makes me so happy to be continuously able to derive strength and inspiration from everything I have around me: my family and friends, my classes and assignments, even my childhood movies.

IMG_0600

Ahsen and Adel have this whiteboard up in their living room and it was so heart-warming.

My week really reminds me that I have so much to be thankful for. Just like the whiteboard says, I still have my brain and my bones, and I’ll always have my families and my homes.

To my American friends, happy thanksgiving weekend; I hope you have a good meaningful one. To everyone else, I miss you guys and I’m always thinking of you and wishing you all good things.

P.S. Also very thankful for Adele’s new album.

Week 12: Time Passes, Tables Turn

I have 2 full weeks and 2 half weeks of classes left, you guys. Can you believe it? BECAUSE I CAN. I AM EXCITED.

It’s been a great semester, though. I was so weary of everything, I was trying to make sure I don’t “slip” and mess up, lose control of my workload… but I’m grateful that so far, it has not¬†happened and I think it’s safe to say I don’t foresee it happening soon. Granted, I have the easiest workload I’ve had in like 2 years, and that’s probably 90% of the reason why. I’m enjoying it either way. College has never been more fun.

Last weekend, for example, was excellent. I got to watch a play in Philadelphia for the first time on Friday night. I watched Disgraced, written by Ayad Akhtar who won a Pulitzer Prize for it. It’s about a Pakistani American lawyer navigating his Muslim heritage in the post 9/11 world. I don’t know much about theatre, but I really enjoyed it and I’m glad my friend Adriel invited me to watch it.

IMG_0105

PAACH, the Pan Asian American Community House, celebrated its 15th year anniversary on Saturday. It was a really great celebration and I’m glad I¬†was invited¬†to attend! I got to hear Amy Gutmann (the Penn president) speak, meet some alums who came back from homecoming weekend and listen to a great keynote speech by Vijal Patel. Vijal is a Penn alum, class of ’98. He studied finance¬†and engineering but then went into a career in comedy writing. His speech was¬†so funny. If (or when) I get my hands on a recording, I will be sure to send it to everyone I know. He talked about how important it is to have safe spaces on campus so that students have the freedom and confidence to explore their abilities in new and interesting ways. He also talked about how he took a huge risk, declining a¬†huge¬†Wall Street job offer to drive across the country and move to L.A. to pursue a career in entertainment. Sigh, I wish I could tell you more but my memory of it is super spotty so just trust me, it was hilarrrrious and inspiring. I got to meet him after, and he was really nice! (You can read a little about him here!)

The PAACH anniversary celebration in Huntsman Hall.

The PAACH anniversary celebration in Huntsman Hall.

IMG_0197

He took this with his phone and texted it to me. WHAT.

Homecoming weekend was also really great because I got to see Amanda again. She was a senior last year, and one of the first few Malaysians I met from Penn. It’s always really nice to talk to people who’ve been through the whole Penn journey and know what it’s like to make it out on the other side, but it’s a bonus to talk to someone¬†who understands the path I’m on and part of where I come from. It really means so much to me to have such¬†supportive and understanding people in my life.

Early Sunday morning with Amanda <3

Sunday morning with Amanda ‚̧

This past week, I’ve also started watching The Office and, well, I don’t know why I put off watching it for so many years because it’s an amazing show and I kinda¬†squeezed in time to watch it whenever I could. For example:

Watching it while having breakfast in bed.

Watching it while having breakfast in bed (and yeah, that’s Nestum).

Watching it while doing laundry.

Watching it while doing laundry (I am also watching it while I type this).

It has also been a great week even though it’s only Wednesday so far. There is a farmer’s market every Wednesday in front of the bookstore on campus and today I bought some good fresh bread there. Conveniently, the farmer’s market is also next to Cosi which gives free coffee on Wednesdays! So I got fresh bread and free coffee, which is, *deep breaths* wonderful.

IMG_0117

IMG_0118

What I did with my bread for lunch!

What I did with my bread for lunch!

Then, today after class, I went to see Rachel who is a freshman in Write On, one of the volunteer programs I’m in at Penn. We talked about the many difficulties of freshman year and reliving them sent chills down my spine. The overwhelming feeling of lostness–physically around campus, navigating new friendships, finding an area of interest and just generally finding a enclave on campus makes you feel like you belong. It takes time, I guess, but I genuinely believe it gets better. That’s what I told Rachel.

Gratefully and certainly, it has gotten better for me. Today, for the first time, I felt the tables turning a little. I’ve had the chance to meet with 3 freshmen girls so far this semester¬†to talk about adjusting at Penn but it just occurred to me right now that I’ve kind of transitioned into a different, um, how do I say this, position(?) here. I remember talking to my freshman hall Resident Advisor, Cat, and other upperclassmen like Petra and Hanna because they reached out to me wanting to talk to me about how¬†I’m¬†doing in my transition into Penn. It’s hard to believe I’m now on the other side of that conversation. It’s really weird, because 2.5 years in, I still feel like I’m transitioning into life at Penn every day so I don’t know how it’s possible that I’m giving advice or whatever. I feel that this transition is never complete and so is always ongoing but I suppose, in some sense, I can’t¬†really¬†say that I’m adjusting anymore because I’ve been here for a while, and no matter how much more experience I have to gain, the fact is that I have¬†gained some experience.

A few hours ago, I was at an Asian Pacific American Heritage Week event. We invited Vidya, a YouTube star to perform at Penn. She does mashups between Hindi and American songs and she performed a bunch of them earlier. I also got to meet her earlier and speak to her a little, it was really fun.

IMG_0120

Vidya’s performance.

IMG_0121

At the meet and greet with the planning boards after the performance.

It was great to be a part of an organising group that helped make this happen. That would not have happened 2 years ago. Also, as I was at this event, I was introduced to a freshman who asked to know more about what the club I am part of does. When she left, I again found myself¬†thinking that 2 years ago, I would’ve probably been on the other side of that conversation as well.

In fact, when I left the venue, I walked on the steps between College and Cohen halls onto Locust and recalled the time in freshman year Saffa (who was a senior at the time) walked with me there. We were walking back to our rooms after the first MSA meeting that year. She was giving me a little tour of the campus. It felt like quite a long time ago.

For the first time, it feels like I’ve actually made progress. That’s a pretty difficult thing to feel here sometimes, you know. Everyone just seems to be doing amazing things that it’s hard to see my own progress at times. But today, as I walked home, I felt proud of myself because I know I’ve progressed here as a result of my baby steps–slowly, putting myself out there and steadily putting one foot in front of the other.

I know it’s not a lot, but if I don’t start feeling a little proud of me for something, then, well I don’t know. I gotta start somewhere and this seems like a good place to start.

Week 9: Don’t Trust Everything You See Online / My Girlfriends Are Made of Magic

Today's Chai Chat!

Today’s Chai Chat!

Today, I went to a Chai Chat (they’re monthly dialogues on issues socially relevant to students, basically, and they’re called Chai Chats because there is free chai!). It was¬†a collaborative discussion on the way social media affects our perception of our peers and ourselves. I think it’s a really important dialogue to have because so much of the pressure we put on ourselves is derived from¬†what we think everyone else is doing and the standards we feel we should hold ourselves to because of it. And let’s face it.. Facebook and whatnot, they all kinda make you feel like everyone else is doing a lot better than they usually are.

I mean, I love Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. I think, to some extent, I like seeing what everyone else is up to because it gives me inspiration and ideas–a type of fashion style I could try out, a new restaurant¬†I could visit, a good band I might want to check out. This is great. Seriously. I love it. Most of the time I’d say that in the moment, it makes me feel connected and happy¬†or whatever. Plus, I like knowing what my friends and family back home or in other countries are up to! I miss them so much and being able to see bits and pieces from their “mundane” daily lives make me feel close and connected. I like seeing people having fun and being happy–it makes me happy. It¬†really¬†does!

But no one is really representing an accurate picture of what their life is like, you know? Most people try to put their best selves out there, and that’s fine. We’re always taught to behave nicely and appropriate around people, and so I can understand how it’s somewhat natural to “curate” a social media presence. I’m not saying it’s bad or that they shouldn’t, just that it might be difficult for us to remember, and so sometimes, when it’s 2 a.m. and, I don’t know, maybe I’m writing a paper that feels completely unwriteable or studying for a midterm that seems to have bottomless material to cover, pictures of people¬†going out and having fun just slowly tip toes into my¬†mind. It happens. And like a big fat caramel cupcake to my hungry eyes, it tempts me to think, “how do they do¬†so much outside of school¬†and still take 6 classes and do really well in all of them?”

We’re always comparing our blooper reels to our peers’ highlight reels and that’s not fair. But I get it. It’s hard. I know. I subconsciously do it a lot. Yet, I’m also guilty of putting my best self up. I try to make conscious efforts to be genuine and honest–I’ve been frank about downright crappy weeks and feeling stressed and helpless and lost. I guess those things just tend to be more “quiet”? I don’t know. Like I said, it’s kinda ingrained in me to treat social media interactions like I would real life ones, which means to lead a good example and what not, be collected and friendly, but also just a little bit open and frank about the not-so-great stuff.

I also personally don’t know if I would say I never want to compare myself with others, because a bit of awareness is useful I think.. but I guess all I wanna say is it’s never a complete picture. Everyone is going through something. For me, it really¬†helps to remind myself¬†that happiness isn’t a zero-sum thing; someone else’s success and happiness doesn’t stop me¬†from having mine and likewise for you. We have different lives, starting points, priorities,¬†personalities and different lessons to learn. Jealousy costs way more than its worth, and to quote the realm of adolescent wisdom (*cough* Tumblr *cough*), trust the journey of your life.

[Haha so thanks for bearing with me ’til the end of that whole spiel.. I am now going to ~*seamlessly transition*~ into talking about the rest of my week.. lol.]

This past week, I had my first session of Write On, which is the volunteer creative writing thing we do with kids from Lea Elementary. I missed being around these kids and seeing the clever things they come up with. The new coaches this year also seem really great at coaching the kids, so that made me really happy.

Working on collage poetry in small groups.

Working on collage poetry in small groups.

The kids performing their poems in front of everyone.

The kids performing their poems in front of everyone.

Besides that, this past week I was just constantly constantly constantly reminded of how lucky I am to have the friends that I do. I wouldn’t change a thing about them–they are smart, ambitious, hardworking, sensitive, kind and hilarious. Thank you thank you thank you thank you for friends.

Cristina walks 8 blocks with me to help me satisfy my cravings. Shahirah and May May lent me some of their clothes to wear and helped me pick out clothes and¬†for hours even though they had a lot of work to do. Sofia is always there to crack me up with her random dance moves. Busra has my back and has real talk with me. Hui Jie is my pilates/gym¬†bud who also goes on bubble tea runs with me and keeps me in check by reminding me not to procrastinate.¬†I don’t even know if any of them read this but thanks for making me feel safe and loved all the time.

Cristina at lunch with me today.

Cristina at lunch with me today.

Some of the clothes Shahirah and May May lent me/weighed in on.

Some of the clothes Shahirah and May May lent me/weighed in on.

IMG_0074

At Sofia’s birthday last week.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 23.57.16

With Busra before we started contemplating life and why we’re in college and all that.

IMG_0070

Hui Jie sends me encouragement snaps when I have lots of work because she’s great.

Golden stars to all my girlz and everyone reading this. As we speak, I’m doing the thing where I spend an hour trying to pick a movie to watch and end up just watching 50 movie trailers and then decide not to watch a movie because I just wasted so much time trying to pick one. Haha, have a fantastic weekend! ūüôā

Week 8: Sometimes Small Hurdles are Big Hurdles

Here we are. Week 8. I am at the midpoint of the semester, otherwise known as the time my to-do list reached puberty and went through a growth spurt.

Midterm next week and 200 pages of reading to do, remember to email the TA about setting up an appointment to ask clarifying questions, review material so that I know what questions to ask to begin with, email student groups about collaboration on event, go to Lea elementary for advertising 3 times this week, remember to print out flyers before you go, text Casey to coordinate where we’ll meet, email the homeroom teacher to tell her we’re coming, remember you have an appointment at Career Services at 1.30pm to talk about how to take control of finding a job, submit your resume and cover letters for criticism, follow up on advisor about transcript problem, cook lunch/dinner at 7 a.m. because you won’t have enough¬†time to do it otherwise, call SHS to see if my appointment was schedule correctly online, make a dental appointment, see if I can squeeze in an extra gym session on Wednesday morning, drop by Marcus’ office hours to collect my midterm exam and assignments, see Professor Epstein to discuss the stuff I didn’t understand about his lecture on perception, remember to ask Mama about her medical appointment, email sponsors my¬†transcript (!!!), make sure you’re drinking enough water, oh and water your plants check to see they haven’t completely died, do the dishes from yesterday morning please, oh and you really need to do laundry if not you’ll have nothing to wear to the gym tomorrow, also pick out classes for the Spring semester and make a mock schedule, which means you have to see Professor Connolly to approve some of your course selections, also see an ECON advisor to help figure out if you want to continue with that major, and see a PSCI advisor to see if you could accidentally get a minor in political science, and remember to write a blog post about your week in time.*

I hate to sound all ~oh I’m so busy~ but man.. the little things. It’s like that light rain which is more like mist,¬†where it’s not heavy enough to warrant¬†you staying inside, and yet an umbrella just will not protect you from it because it still gets in your face.¬†It’s like a pile of books in my way for which¬†I just need to figure out a system to¬†stack them¬†on their respective shelves. It’s like a being a waiter at those restaurant where they carry like 6 dishes on two arms (or is that not a thing?).

See, the thing is, none of those things really scare me in and of itself, and I know I can use iCal and my to-do list and reminders to help me¬†get through all of them. But sometimes I wish someone would just give me a play-by-play of what I need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis so I would just follow instructions, as opposed to having to always re-evaluate and re-consider and improvise. It’s like how the rubic’s cube was so much more fun once I had memorised all the steps, instead of having to think my way through it and calculus only became my favourite subject once I had gotten the hang of¬†it.

Dude, this transition into being an adult is toughhh. It’s like I’ve spent my whole life riding those tiny aeroplane rides where you pay like a dollar or something to use and it just swings you back and forth for 2 minutes while playing some fun-fair type music, and then I blinked and suddenly I am in a real aeroplane and there are buttons on the dashboard and ceiling and floor and levers that serve functions I don’t know of.

It’s times like these I really need to just take a step back and detach from the street-level view of my life and “zoom out”. Yeah, they’re like a million tiny raindrops, but it’s just rain. Soak in it, wipe it off–it will stop, you will dry off. It will be okay. Deep breaths. One thing at a time. One step, and then another, and another.

Honestly, “baby steps” is¬†like one of the most liberating pieces of wisdom¬†I’ve ever¬†received, which is why it’s on my Instagram bio thing (and that is clearly where all pieces of wisdom belong).