People-Watch: Suits and Skirts

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10.45 a.m | Eyeliner

I like my eyeliner to extend just a little, over the corner of my upper eyelids. I tend to draw them sloping slightly downwards, giving my eyes a gentler look. I usually choose liquid eyeliner, because they produce smoother, sharper lines. I draw it on carefully, following the curve of my eyes, ghosting across the eyelashes. Today, I’m keeping it minimal. Not too thick. Just barely there. For the finishing touch, I fill in the outer corners of my eyes with brown crayon liner. Next, I apply a peach-scented lip balm, shaped like a cute plastic cupcake. It was a gift from a friend. Then, I go over my lips with a sheen of plum purple gloss, to give it a dash of colour.

Next, hair. I pull it into a simple high ponytail. My clothes were set, too. I was wearing a sleeveless white, halter-neck top, and a black, high-waisted pencil skirt. Finally, I pulled on my flats. Black, with a ribbon at the tips.

I stared at my reflection. I looked like an office girl, with a 9 to 5 job, probably in a cubicle. My mouth tasted like apple crumble. It was the only thing I had for breakfast. Time to go.

11.45 a.m | ‘Ang Moh’ Couples

The train whirred clunkily, as it chugged along the underground subway tracks. Every now and then it came to a stop, and an unnaturally polite voice announced the name of the station, as the doors clicked open. People filed in and out. Everyone looked sombre, as if burdened by the weight of morning light. A pretty girl in a blue dress slept, in the seat opposite mine. Her salmon pink handbag lay vulnerable on her lap. I wondered if someone was eyeing it, waiting to grab it on the way out. An old woman and an old man chattered, two seats away from me. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the old woman handing the old man a ringgit note. The old man appeared bashful, but accepted it anyway. I overheard her saying, “Ini you ambil kasi family.” I wondered if they were friends, and what warranted her charity.

Two pairs of foreign couples came in. I noticed the women. In the first couple, the woman was wearing a grey top, and grey sweatpants. She had a regal look, with black hair, cropped extremely short. Her thighs and calves looked full and bulky, but her face was sharp and defined. I remember thinking about the stunning contrast between the white of her skin, against a backdrop of leathery brown, and tanned yellow people. The second couple appeared to be the polar opposite of the first couple. Where the first couple was understated and monochrome, the second couple was vibrantly technicoloured. The woman was brightly dressed, in a lilac tank top, and orange Bohemian print pants. Scarves hung down from her full waist. She wore strangely thick make-up, with sharply drawn, exaggerated eyebrows, and red lipstick. Both couples left the train before my stop.

12.00 pm | Wet Butterflies

I arrived at KL Sentral, a bustling hub of people. Some were dragging luggages behind them. They were probably transiting to the airport. Some looked like your regular office workers. Security guards and police stood on standby. I blended into the ecosystem of the station, and moved silently through the sifting crowd.

I recalled that we were supposed to meet in front of McDonalds. I made my way over to the gaudy, yellow sign. For a while, I stood there, unsure of who I was looking out for. A smartly dressed young man approached me, and asked if I was with TalentCorp. I nodded and mouthed a “yes.” He smiled and motioned for me to join them. Suddenly, I see an entire group of youth, dressed in work clothes. I see a flurry of blues and whites and blacks. Ties. Sleeves buttoned at the cuffs. Pinstripes and blazers. Pencil skirts to the hem. Covered shoes.

I wondered how many of us there knew ourselves, or what we wanted to do with our lives. There we stood, a group of baby-faced, round-cheeked youth, in stiff, formal adultwear. I felt out of place, like a butterfly ejected too early from the chrysalis. I was fully developed, in the physical sense, but my wings were still wet.

1.00 pm | Gentle Girl 

I am in a bus, talking to a girl. She has a gentle face, clean of make-up, except for brown contact lenses. Somehow, despite it being our first meeting, we ended up talking with ease. We spoke of the differences between introverts and extroverts, between thinkers and feelers. She tells me that she has a wide range of interests. She goes lecture hopping. She had a quiet, but thoughtful manner of speaking. Something about the way she spoke made me feel as if she was always deep in thought, thinking about something faraway.

Before I knew it, the bus rolled to a stop. We were at our designated office.

I decide that I like her.

This doesn’t happen too often.

3.00 pm | Don’t Understand

I am sitting in an office pantry, a few good floors up, in a towering glass building. We are discussing a case. The room is hushed, and everyone is listening intently. An ex-Yale Professor is talking about FTAs and how industries collide, like interstellar galaxies. He spoke quickly and decisively, never missing a beat. There was a complicated looking graph, projected on the screen. I wondered how many people in the room were following his train of thought. Perhaps that’s the thing with confidence. If you speak fast enough, everyone will think you know exactly what you are talking about. This professor definitely seemed to know his stuff. His explanations sounded extremely logical, and yet the concepts weren’t quite meshing in my mind. I only captured the gist of it, at the very end.

I glanced outside the window, and memories of someone’s laugh lines flashed in my mind, for some reason.

5.00 pm | Regrets

The second office had walls of marble and cream. We were in a meeting room. A collected young woman is presenting in front of us. She had a round face and a grounded manner of speech. Somehow, she reminded me of a good friend. She wore a blue dress, with a silver pendant dangling from her neck. She was a civil engineer. Now she is a consultant. The topic shifted to one of happiness.

“When we talk to the top CEOs, all of them legends in the field of consulting, with highly successful careers, they all say the same thing.”

She paused.

“They wished they spent more time with their families.”

8.00 pm | Pleasant Strangers

We are having dinner, sponsored by the company. The waiter brought out pizza, plates of canapes, fish rolled in pita bread, salmon, calamari rings, and pasta.

One of the consultants is sitting opposite me. She is young, pretty, Indian. Small nose, short hair. Wore a yellow dress. We attempt to make conversation. It goes a little awkwardly at first. We simply asked questions that required no effort to answer, like dispensing data. I felt a part of my brain tune off, as I grappled to make a connection.

Finally, we hit the topic of personality types, and MBTI. Something in me sparked, and we began talking with more ease. My new friend, the gentle girl from the bus, joined in. I could see she was taking interest in the topic too. We chatted about the differences between Feelers and Thinkers, and how they complement each other. We also spoke about misconceptions people usually have of introverts. Something about being able to give and receive genuine insight excites me.

The conversation petered out, but I still enjoyed dinner.

9.00 pm | Chinese Soaps

The industry insight session has long ended. I felt like my social tank was exhausted, but in a good way. I learnt new things, and made good connections. I decide to pull down my hair, and walk to the bookshop. I particularly love this place, with its bright lights, classical music, and wooden floors.

I passed by a paper diorama, by artist FeiGiap. It was a pop-up, featuring old town coffee shops, akin to the sort you would see on Malaysian streets. His buildings were extremely detailed, down to the rust of the windows, or the peeling paint on the walls. In contrast, his human figures were simple; doe-eyed schoolgirls in pinafores. I appreciated his aesthetic a lot. There was a deep sense of nostalgia from looking at his drawings. I was happy that somewhere out there, an amazingly talented artist shared my sentiment on the evocative atmosphere of looking at buildings, and old architecture.

After that, I grabbed a book on problem solving, and another on “Kawaii Things to Do in Japan.” It was written by an Australian artist from Sydney, who runs a blog titled “Hello Sandwiches.” I sat down by a corner to read.

Before I left, I stopped by a shelf of Chinese soaps. They were all an earthy, brown hue. Some were slightly yellowish. Some had blocks of texture in it. The labels looked interesting. Tea-tree. Pinewood. Mandarin orange. Wild Patchouli. Jars of diffusers were arranged above the soaps. They were labeled with things like “Calm”, or “Revitalizing.”

Wild Patchouli was my favourite. When I inhaled the soap, I was overcome by a deep sensation of calmness, spreading throughout my body. The scent was gentle and earthy, but also refreshing. It distinctly evoked the imagery of brown parchment paper, a Chinese medicine shop, and 1930s China, for some odd reason.

Then, I thought about my late grandmother.

10.15 pm | Goodnight

It was time to go.

I bought myself potted milk tea (oolong, with oreo crumbs), and called it a day.

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Good Night! ❤

Burdened Heart

Dear Seafarer,

A fair warning that this will be a negative post. I do have days where I struggle, immensely, with my own psyche. It’s not all positivity and shine, and wisdom. This is one of those days.

My heart is burdened. A few minutes ago, I just submitted my acceptance letter for commencing an Honours year. I waited until the last minute to do it, because I was putting off the decision, out of anxiety. The truth is, I’ve been penduluming between deciding if I should commit to it, or completely changing course, to something I know I feel more excited about, but is also rather unrelated to the momentum I’ve set for myself. Right to the end, I was still wavering, like a fickle-minded fool. The year hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already reverting to avoidant coping mechanisms. I’m not proud of it.

Honestly, one part of me is grateful, while the other part is feeling terrible. It feels like I’m about to do something completely inauthentic to myself. Signing that letter felt like signing a death cert. I’m not inclined towards research, not one bit. And even at the end of it all… do I even see myself in a Psychology career? Is it going to be worth the agony and the anxiety and all the effort? I feel like I’ve just spent 3 years in university on autopilot, for a career I’m not certain about. But what is certain? Nothing!

I know I shouldn’t be whining because I’ve got an amazing opportunity to pursue my studies (and it’s not exactly cheap, either!) in a prestigious university, that’s supposed to give me that confidence and headstart I need in life, but why do I feel absolutely miserable and unprepared for the world? I’m behaving like an entitled child. It’s shameful.

I’ve been feeling this way since last year, the minute I finished my last paper for my undergraduate degree. I knew that I would need to come to yet another deciding point in my life. The last time I had to do it, I ended up paralyzed with anxiety and not making any decisions. A year went by, wasted. It was a terrible feeling of shriveling up inside and dying.

I’m so disappointed in myself because I feel like I’ve learnt nothing from that episode by reverting back to this mentality. I’m not getting any younger. I can’t afford anymore mistakes. I can’t afford to waste anymore time.

In attempt to reason out my emotions, I made a pro and con list.

Reasons for doing Honours:

  1. It seems like the most logical, progressive option; given that it is directly related to my degree.
  2. Finishing off an honours year now would at least mean that I have the necessary qualifications needed, should I decide to pursue a career as an actual Psychologist.
  3. Should I decided to take up a group thesis, I know people I’m happy to work with.
  4. The first three years are unrepresentative of what it actually is like to work in Psychology, so it would be inaccurate of me to base my future projections of the career on them. In other words, I’ve barely seen the tip of what Psychology is about.
  5. I should just finish it off regardless, and then if by the end of the 4th year, I really cannot see myself in Psych, then I can safely say I’ve tried my best, and move on to greener (?) pastures. Breaking the momentum now would render my first three years rather useless, in terms of a Psychology career.
  6. It will force (?) analytical skills and organisation down my throat.
  7. If I do go all the way and end up as a Psychologist, it’s a wanted skill on the PR list.

Reasons against Honours:

  1. I dislike research, and I have no confidence in my abilities to do it.
  2. I am uncertain about actually wanting a career as a Psychologist.
  3. I’m really interested in a Masters of Creative Advertising, because I can see myself more as Creative Director, than a Psychologist, at this point.
  4. Even if I do complete an Honours year, there’s no guarantee that I’ll even make it to the Clinical or Organisational Psychology program.

Reasons why it’s so confusing to trust my gut instinct.

  1. I have no idea if the reality of working as a creative is entirely different from what I perceive it to be (it probably is).
  2. I still want to do something that can help people directly.
  3. I’ll naturally gravitate to what gives me greater cognitive ease, so clearly being a researcher will cause me distress, because it’s so counter-intuitive to my personality. But that’s me potentially boxing myself without actually trying.
  4. I’m a ball of anxiety and I screw up everything in my head by magnifying their consequences by a hundred times anyway.

The truth is, Psychology has always been, my Plan B. And now herein lies the frustration and confusion of not really knowing if it’s a good Plan B, in the first place.

Last year, I’ve seen enough damage done, when someone burns out about their career choices. Time, energy, money. Everything is a factor here.

Where do I thrive? When I’m allowed to be creative in my work. When I’m making or doing beautiful things that impact people on an emotional level. When I’m allowed to apply creativity to functionality and see how it is relevant and helpful. When I’m working in a supportive environment.

 

At the end of the day, I just want to make the most of the opportunities I’ve been given, so I can provide solutions and solve problems of need and demand, in this world.

And I don’t know if I’m going, where I’m supposed to go- to achieve that.

5 years from now, I don’t want to be wallowing in regret. I want to work in a place that will excite me. A place where Mondays feel better than Fridays.

And from here I am now… I’m really not sure.

I think the reason why decisions are scary, is because we think about them on a long-term basis. I feel like making a decision now, will impact the course of my life for the next 5-10 years. I don’t know about you, but the idea of that intimidates me so much. It’s a huge responsibility, and a lot to decide on, despite having so little information. We can’t even tell what’s going to happen tomorrow, so how are we supposed to project ourselves that far into the future? It’s absolutely ridiculous to expect that of ourselves.

We can only imagine, and plan to the best of our abilities, but anyone’s who’s lived a little can tell you that life never follows a script.

Dear seafarer, where is life taking me?

 

Bloom

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I like wearing wigs because I get to see immediate physical transformations of myself. If I put on a short wig with a boy-cut, I start posing with a swagger, I become more tomboyish. If I put on a long, feminine wig, my body language softens, my movements become more coy. Sometimes, putting on a wig feels like shutting one version of myself, and briefly activating another.

Today, I was penduluming between wanting to be a fairy, and a trashy blonde girl. I decided I could be both. I got this cheap blonde wig from Daiso, and decided to straighten out the curls with a hot iron.

 

Back to the point of origin

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A year ago today, I was in Sydney, looking at a sky blow up in streaks of colours and sparks. Today, I am in my room in Brisbane, attempting (poorly) to blog. There is a box of finished Vietnamese rolls to my right. I’m feeling a little bloated and thick over all the Christmas food. Downstairs, my sister laughs over dinner with her friends. I’m headed to the city in an hour.

Tomorrow I will wake up, and it will be 2016. The earth would have done a complete orbit around the sun. I imagine calendars and clocks resetting in apartments, as people go about their day. It is both a surreal and anti-climatic notion to me.

To be honest, if there was one emotion I could use to describe 2015, it would be, “lonely.” Started the year with unresolved feelings, and a lot of anxiety. Since then, a lot has happened, but I can’t help but wonder if I’ve progressed the way I would have like.

I hesitate, still- to call it a “bad” year. To me, there isn’t such a thing. Bad and good happens in equal parts throughout the year. It’s all a matter of perspective. Every year grows you, in some way. 2015 certainly had its bumps, but all in all, I’m grateful for it. If there is only ONE single thing I achieve in the entirety of the year, it has to be something that pushes me out of my comfort zone, and adds to my experience and skill bank. 2015 certainly brought me plenty of opportunities to do so, and this is something I hope will equally challenge, and stretch me, in 2016.

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Without further ado, here are a list of things I found memorable, in 2015:

Became a UQMSA executive 

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Joined UQMSA as a committee member. It took some time adjusting into the committee from ACYA’s climate (and I really loved working with the people there!), but all in all I really thank this association for giving me so many opportunities to be involves in causes beyond myself. We organise an insane amount of activities per-semester, and it has been a privilege working alongside so many passionate and intelligent Malaysians throughout the year. I am humbled and I’ve learnt so much. Thank you UQMSA!

Gave terrifying speech

Aligned with that, one of my earliest tasks was to give a terrifying speech in front of incoming Malaysian students as UQMSA’s Marketing Convenor. Was really nervous, and I apparently rushed and mumbled through it. I remember the crowd being cold and unresponsive. I felt terrible after. What an awesome way to start the year, haha

Guest speaker at Ignition 11147082_1630731020506311_5981225170878386644_n

Gave a second public speech as a guest speaker at Ignition, a wonderful initiative for empowering people to share their dreams, interests, and passions. I presented on introversion, a topic close to my heart. It was well received, and generated interest and discussion. That day, I ran home with adrenalin in my blood, bells in my heart, and a lightness in my feet.

Lemak Workshop

11062359_885178331552586_5034330381814259102_nConceptualised LEMAK, UQMSA’s first psychologically themed workshop, which looked into body image.

Malaysian Appreciation Night

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Organised Malaysian Appreciation Night (M.A.N) alongside my beloved committee, which allowed me to remind myself why I loved Malaysia, despite everything falling apart back at home. I really enjoyed working on this. It gave me something to think about when my mind was drifting away into emotional troubles.

My Tiny Art Exhibition

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Had my first ever art exhibition with RAWBrisbane, and actually sold art from it. Whuttttttt. This was pretty much one of the penultimate events for me, and it will be hard to top this. Will probably need a post on its own.

ABA Therapy Job Interview

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Went for my first official job interview as an ABA Therapist and shockingly enough, got the role. Decided not to take it though, because not long after, I found out that I got into Honours, and I wasn’t sure how I would juggle the workload with all the travelling I had to do for this role. I still don’t know if I did the right thing, but I’m going to have faith. Nevertheless, the workshop was really eye-opening. Had the opportunity to work alongside a wonderful bright-eyed child, and I feel like this is something I can potentially do, for a career. If there is one thing I could take away from this, it would be; no one autistic child is the same.

Graduation

12369261_948173715220039_855242853681621265_n (1)GRADUATED.

ED FREAKING SHEERAN

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Friends, New and Old

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Made new friends whom I’d definitely like to keep in my life, and will hopefully have more opportunities to hang out with in the future! Some of these friends were made in completely unexpected places, like an online personality forum.Regardless, I hope I’ll continue to form new, meaningful bonds, and keep the old ones. Half the beauty (if not, all) of the journey lies within the people I’ve met, and will come to meet.

Heartbreak and Growth

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Learnt more about myself, relationship wise. There is an important difference between love and lust, and being able to recognise that I was falling for my version of reality, not reality for what it was. This was a big struggle for me, and I continue to struggle, admittedly; but I think I know my convictions better now. I will not be ashamed of handling it the only way I knew how, as bumpy as it was. Finally, nothing feels as sobering and as freeing as clarity.

—-

So all in all, 2015 was a challenging year, but I am thankful, every day, that I am where I am. Maybe I’m taking a little while longer than others to get to where I am supposed to be, and I still am not sure where I’m going, but one thing’s for sure-

Just. Keep. Swimming.

May roads and paths unravel beneath my feet, as I continue my journey.

What’s in store for next year? Whatever it is, let it be a good one. Thank you for being a growing year, 2015. Here’s to 2016. Cheers!