serious talk

July 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is an awfully serious topic because it should be. I am not as eloquent in my words as this man is but from my brief encounters with this terrible affliction, I have this to say. (under the cut because it’s not pretty. but it’s oh-so-real)

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simple words

July 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

noneJust a few more days till I can go back home. My sleep cycle has really been off. I wake up exhausted and on Monday night, I woke up 3 times. I am literally a zombie. It does not help that I feel more irritable than usual. Home is so near yet so far right now. Another full day of classes, a slightly more relaxed Thursday and then home on Friday evening. I truly look forward to it.

Today, I have gained an appreciation for the word ‘patience’. I have unfortunately not been able to hold my tongue from throwing a biting comment. Another friend started sulking because of reasons that are actually pretty hurtful, when looked at from her point of view.

Being patient has never been my strong suit. I am an IED waiting to explode at any moment. It’s difficult for me to take a breath when I am pushed to a certain limit (or when I am terribly sleep deprived). Especially now when answers come so easily with simple clacking of the keyboard, I’m not surprised my patience threshold has reached a new level of ‘low’.

But patience is so important in achieving anything. I’m pretty sure we’ve all said something in the spur of the moment that we want to shove back into our throats, or done something in a hurry that we wish we had slowly planned out, or made a decision too quickly because we simply couldn’t wait. How many times have those worked out?

I need to learn to step back, breathe and think things through. If only it was easier done than said.

the Thief of Joy

July 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

talk

I don’t think I’m the only person who does this on a daily basis: compare myself to others. Or rather, allow myself to feel inferior compared to others. With how easy it is to take a peek into another person’s life nowadays via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other forms of social media, I’m pretty sure most of us suffer from this terrible affliction of looking at another person and coveting what they have.

I find myself gravitating to comparing ‘me’ to other people that are kinda similar to myself, be it former classmates, current coursemates or even people I have never met who have a few things in common. I see these other people who appear to be doing so much better and I simply crumble under the repeated blows to my self-esteem. “They’re studying the same thing I am, how can they have time to do ____? They’re able to balance studies, relationships, time with friends out of class yet I’m barely keeping up.”

Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this. I get so self-conscious when I see how put together other people are when I’m scrambling to make things work in my life. How does one stop this endless spiral?

I think one of the steps is putting things into perspective. All we get from what we see in pictures or hear are all snapshots in a person’s life. We may not see it but they’re probably having a crappy day, too. By seeing all their happy shots of good times, we don’t necessarily get an insight into their struggles. People do break down on the inside but they get pretty good at hiding it behind fake smiles. Heck, people might think you’re put together too, you just don’t know it. I love it when the bloggers I follow write about their insecurities because it helps me remember that they’re normal, they’re fallible.

If you’re following someone on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook that really gets you down because you compare yourself to this person so much, STOP scrolling. Detach yourself from that form of social media. Avoid being bombarded with images that only make you upset. Taking a break from being ‘so connected’ to the world may even help you feel better, allowing time for ‘offline’ activities that make you feel good ie: exercising, reading a book, taking a walk.

Recognise your own strengths. I admit that I too, look at other girls and wished I looked more like ___.  I can’t quite remember where I read this but it’s recommended that instead of looking in the mirror and identifying your ‘problem areas’, we should learn to celebrate the parts of us that are unique or that we love. For example, you may have great hair or beautiful eyes or great arms. Focus on the beautiful instead of what you feel you’re lacking. This should also be applied to your mind, apart from your physicality. You may admire this person’s ability to stay up for hours to study but you forget that you’re better at prioritising tasks. Think of what you do best and celebrate that.

Lastly, instead of envying these people and comparing ourselves to them, we need to learn to celebrate their gifts, their talents. Heck, we can use it as motivation to better ourselves. Comparison is only bad when we use it as a form of destruction to our well-being. Admiring a certain characteristic in a person does not mean we should pick at our own faults. Everyone has strengths, everyone has weaknesses. By learning to accept that, we can learn to stop being the green-eyed monster.

Maybe a step we can take is to help boost the spirits of those around us. Take time and tell your best friends one thing that you like about them, something you admire in them. It may be hard for us to see the good in ourselves but it’s so much easier to remind others about the good in them.

Remember, you’re the only version of yourself there is. No one you compare yourself to has walked in the same shoes you have all their life. You’re unique, you’re special and you are talented. Learn to see that in yourself.

Pain demands to be felt

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

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The Fault in Our Stars is basically the worst movie to watch when you’re emotional about the downing of a flight. Especially since Amsterdam is highlighted in the movie.

But regardless of my emotional state, I really enjoyed the movie. I was right: I didn’t cry reading the book but I knew tears would flow when I watched the movie. This movie will make you cry, regardless if you think you have a heart of stone ala Rameses; everyone in the cinema cried, okay?

Do I recommend it? Of course. I’m all for tear-jerkers. 

 

A reminder

July 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

I know that we all think we’re immortal, we’re supposed to feel that way, we’re graduating. The future is and should be bright, but, like our brief four years in high school, what makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever, what makes it precious is that it ends.

I know that now more than ever. And I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life, make yours count for something.

Fight for what matters to you, no matter what.
Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?

It’s easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too, and there’ll be days where you feel all alone, and that’s when hope is needed most.

Keep it alive. No matter how buried it gets, or lost you feel, you must promise me, that you will hold on to hope and keep it alive.

We have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you, is to become hope. People need that.

I know it feels like we’re saying goodbye, but we will carry a piece of each other into everything that we do next, to remind us of who we are, and of who we’re meant to be.

With all the news about the tragedies in life lately, I can’t help but fall back to Gwen Stacy’s valedictorian speech from The Amazing Spider-man 2: Rise of Electro. The importance of the fragility of life. We’ve all learned that before, I know I have.

MH17 and MH370 in one year.. just horrific reminders of the importance of cherishing those you love. None of us in my batch can truly say we are unaffected, especially when one of our own has lost so much. We were discussing it over breakfast, talking about the compensation his family would get (and how it would never be enough), about how lonely the house must feel now, about what emotions they must all be feeling right now. There is a dull ache in my heart right now just thinking about it. I am so sorry for all those who have lost the people they love. I am so sorry that this pain will remain forever. I am truly so sorry.

The most we can learn from these incidents is to truly live every single day, to give every moment your all. We never get time back, it passes us by and then it’s gone forever.

Here’s another Spider-man quote:

“Don’t just follow the path, make your own trail.”

Men in Tights

July 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

 

I had a weird conversation with my mother. I don’t quite know how it started but the fact that Sam Wilson aka The Falcon was replacing Steve Rogers as “Captain America” and Thor now being a woman in the new comics came up. My mom was not happy.

“Why do they need to replace Steve Rogers?”

“I guess it’s partly for representation. What’s wrong with a black Captain America?”

“Why does he have to black?”

“Why can’t he be black? How does that matter?”

“It’s to be politically correct, that’s what it is.”

“Does it matter that he’s black? How does it change anything? Bucky Barnes was Captain America too! There have been a whole bunch of Captain Americas that were not Steve Rogers.”

“I don’t care that he’s black, now. I don’t understand why they have to replace Steve Rogers? What’s wrong with the old character? Is he not relevant anymore? What’s wrong with old things? Why can’t Sam Wilson just remain The Falcon? Was there something inadequate about being The Falcon? My point is, why do they need to rewrite a character? Why can’t they just make new ones or give more priority to the existing ones, if representation matters? Why does Thor have to be a girl? What’s wrong with having a female superhero who’s a new character in her own right?”

I got so confused over this. Let me give you some background on us. My mother is pure Filipino, her parents emigrated to Malaysia and she’s struggled with being from ‘the nation of maids’. My father’s parents emigrated from Ceylon, so I’m part Filipino and part Ceylonese. I guess in the Asian setting, I fit right in with my tan skin but people can never quite place me.

If you don’t quite get what this post is about, it’s about representation. My mother is old-school in some ways. Heck, she’s very old-school. Hemlines should not be too high, you should court and not date, you don’t call your parents by their first names, those kind of things. Very un-modern so to speak. I’m that way too for the most part, because she’s the biggest influence in my life.

My mother’s concern was about the need to be politically correct. “‘Social agenda’ is what is being presented in comic books, subtle ways to get into our psyche.” But comic books have always been set in the era that they’re made in. Political agenda is everywhere. 

Captain America was made in a time when America needed hope, the 1940s. Steve Rogers was blonde, well-built, blue-eyed, handsome.. the perfect Aryan model that Hitler strived for. But he was everything against the Nazi agenda. He used a shield and not a sword or a gun. Captain America was a political statement of his time.

By placing Sam Wilson in the Captain America suit (a persona he did take on in 1999, temporarily), I guess the intention is partly to represent the ‘new America’, the land where there is acceptance of being a POC, supposedly showing that there is no longer the oppression of the African-American population, like there used to be. Sam Wilson as Captain America is again, a political statement.

Is there a need for this? Is there a need for the replacement of old ‘heroes’ with new ones in the same suit? Are we to forget the previous struggles of a nation by simply highlighting new ones? Is replacing Steve Rogers in the red and blue suit a good decision? 

I see my mother’s point of view. Her concern may be a bit overblown, but I kinda get it. To her, people need not change existing roles but create new ones because she had to break through many stereotypes, those that exist till today. The worry that traditions may be lost or that the past may be forgotten is a real one. History is distorted by the people who rewrite textbooks the way they see things. 

But Captain America is just that.. he’s a symbol of a certain moment in time. One day, Captain America may be a Hispanic superhero or a Native American superhero. But before we wait for that day to come, should we not celebrate the superheroes that represent minorities now? Should we not create the superheroes and make them matter without having to change existing ones? The Falcon stepping into Captain America’s shoes is one thing but wouldn’t it be better to make more superheroes that show diversity?

If Marvel came up with a new female superhero instead of rebranding an existing one, I think the crowd would still take to it as long as she’s well written. Would changing Thor’s gender matter, if Thor is still Thor? Wouldn’t it be better to create a new Asgardian heroine (or heck, do more on Sif, for goodness sakes), build a great backstory and let girls be represented with a fresh face?

What do you think? Does it matter that comic book characters pass the mantle or should they remain in their original forms?

#PrayForMH17

July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

When I woke up and read the news this morning, my heart sank. But I didn’t realise that it would hit much closer to home.

The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine hours ago, 295 victims most of which were Dutch. I remember feeling horrified that another MAS airline plane had come up in the news under such chilling circumstances. I retweeted a piece of news and I went to class.

At 8 something in the morning, my housemate texted me with news I never expected to hear: One of her group mates’s, a friend of ours, father was on that flight. He left in the wee hours of the morning to be with his mother. This friend had not seen his dad for the past few months because he worked overseas. He was just talking about how excited he was to go back home to see his parents a few days ago. I felt so nauseous. 

When news like this gets told, you often are able to separate yourself from it because ‘I am not so personally affected’ but when a friend loses a parent, it becomes all too real. 

Pray for the families of those that were killed. Innocent lives, all of them, all returning home, all going for a holiday, all with no malicious intent. Pray for their souls and pray that justice may be served in this tragedy.

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