The suffering of humanity is inescapable. Everywhere we look, we see other humans in pain. Flicking through a newspaper or television channels, we can regularly find a striking example of someone bearing one of the many crosses we are forced to carry in our lifetime as humans. None of us can escape the suffering that is human life, and our experiences will be defined by those struggles which we have found the strength to overcome in our lifetimes. All of us the phoenix, our individual suffering our ashes.
And yet we insist on turning these struggles into an issue of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, or culture. We relate to these issues not as humans, but as a colour of skin, a possessor of certain genitalia, a sexual preference, a place in society, or a zealot of a certain God or Goddess. We continue to break ourselves apart into…
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From the time we’re children, we’re taught by society that we aren’t good enough. By the time we reach young adulthood, we try to paint over the people we are with the brushes society suggests for us. We ignore who we’re meant to be by wearing the hats of the people we believe we’re supposed to be. We eventually forget who we are.
The modern culture of romance, or “dating culture”, is the result of the complete lack of importance placed on the vast substance inherent in our own humanity. We spend our days painting beautiful masks of ourselves and spend our nights wearing them out to down town masquerades. Every weekend is our carnival, every club our Venice. With all of us dressed in the height of fashion and wearing the dreamiest of disguises, we’re content to dance our youthful years away.
We paint our masks with the simple…
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“This is home.
They say you can make your home wherever you feel.
Sometimes you have to step back and give yourself a chance to look around. This is where I have arrived. Around every turn is life outside of mine. There is something about this place: you see its past all around you and all you want is to be a part of its future. Every time I step out, I find something that inspires me. I don’t feel like I need anything at all, except to see and experience more.
But I don’t take it for granted. This city is so full of life, you sometimes don’t know where you fit in. And maybe that’s the point. I realise this place doesn’t want you to see what is here or what came before. It doesn’t ask you to change your ways or how you look at the world. The simple thing it wants you to discover, is you. To find yourself inside its walls and out on its streets. To show you the answers to all your hesitations, questions and dreams are right there in your own reflection. Few places will show you that. No matter what comes next, for me, for now – this is home.”
Living in Cambridge for twenty-two months really must have been my once in a lifetime. I remember every detail clearly – every house and rooms I have lived in, every road I walked, every corner I turned, the bridges I have dragged heavy groceries over and the glorious sunrises and sunsets I have watched. There were some lonely and unlit days but I have over time really learnt how to be okay and happy. I mean it when I always say that the people I have met in this little aesthetic town are some of the most sincere people I have been very fortunate to have crossed paths with. I occasionally think how different things would be if this journey had not exist in my life. Both perspective and company wise, I would have been a very different person as to who I am today.
To my teachers Elin and David especially, thank you for changing my life – in ways I hope my farewell card have conveyed half of. I will always remember everything… and hold the gratitude and respect I have for the both of you close to heart wherever I go.
Also, thank you to my family and friends for visiting me! Always good to have a familiar face 10,000km away from KL. :’)
I knew from the beginning that it was going to be two years in Cambridge, but London was much different. No matter which university it was that I would have gone to in London specifically, for a long time I guess I had known that something was ahead for me in this city. When university conditional offers came, 4 out of 5 were situated in London and later on my final narrowed 2 too. Although my preferred path wasn’t of fruition, and at the end I ultimately chose to withdraw from the alternative that is what I gave up, a part of me still stubbornly believes this isn’t it – the end for this city and myself. Not immediate or near future but I like to think that someday down the road, I guess we’ll see. Life is what we make out of it and I have a whole life ahead of myself, don’t I? With all that could have been… and that I had narrowly brushed past, call me a fool for still refusing to give up and for thinking that perhaps one day I could miraculously find my way back.
If Cambridge was my once in a lifetime, London would probably be my always. Although I never really lived in the city, I might well just have. A part of me have long ago identified and registered this city as home. As I wrote before: “My faded dreams and hopes, I carry around with me always. They are neither abandoned nor disposed.” I shall bring along with me pieces of this place; frankly tired of fighting against myself to let go of a place I now miss dearly and feel nostalgic about, though never completely mine to begin with.
Alas, where next?
I read that every dreamer knows it is possible to be homesick for a place they haven’t been to, never known or don’t even know exists. Somewhere where “their hearts are full and soul understood”. Cambridge was a temporary; London was more – yet with a combination of reasons, I chose to leave. Surely that implies that both homes were not right enough to be my fit?
Carson McCullers says that we are torn between nostalgia and reminiscent for the familiar, and an urge and curiosity for the foreign and strange. The liberating search continues, while both these places live in me.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that had made all the difference.
I’ve been searching for you everywhere,
in coffee shops and malls and bars
from medieval alleys
to petaling street
clear sunset backdrops
to hazy skies
But none of them seem to be selling
‘the real deal’
only cheap knock-offs or imitation
They repeatedly tell me ‘out of stock’
and when I ask when you’ll be back in,
they only stare blank and shrug their shoulders in empty response
I never get an answer
It’s frustrating to say the least…
and by now I should probably buy something entirely new,
I really should
but I find myself still traipsing the stores in this town one by one
cautiously, at every corner
somehow stubbornly and solely in search –
and heck, even your lingering shadows.
I know what happiness looks like.
I would have graduated from university and have a steady job that I won’t dread 9-6pm (or more) office hours too much. I’m not sure at what point will I reach my ‘dream job’ nor do I know what it is yet but I would like that no matter what and how many jobs I have, I am constantly self-enriching and learning. I hope I don’t get toooo caught up in prestige and salary that I am blinded from the joy of being in the world of work.
I want reading and writing to continue be a part of my life. I don’t have to read the largest quantity but I want to read the best quality. Similarly, I don’t have to write the most beautifully and use bombastic and fancy pancy terms but I do want to write with sincerity and reason. I also hope that I will not be beaten down by life at this point; to be pleasantly an aesthetic in all aspects life has to offer would be wonderful.
I would have good company surrounding – family, friends, married with children? We don’t have to live in a penthouse in the city or mansion by the beach (maybe some day after retirement though), but we would live together in a safe and placid environment, without having to worry too much about security and chaos.
He really doesn’t have to be handsome, tanned, tall (ok maybe taller than me though, I am already so short) or very rich… I couldn’t care less. But he certainly has to have a very good heart, a kind soul and considerate personality. He doesn’t have to be an investment banker, a doctor, lawyer or be in the same line as me but whatever he does, he has to do good. I hope he wants to do well and isn’t afraid to put in hard work to achieve his dreams. He doesn’t have to be charismatic; it won’t bother me one bit if he is shy, quiet or a tad awkward but I would like him to be sincere, humble, respectful of people both young and old, and to always see good in them.
We don’t need to have the greatest, easiest and most touching love story of all time to tell others, our children or to impress our parents and family members with. I believe that a strong relationship is at it is having triumphed some hardships but both sides very happily still wanting to be with one another that nothing deemed hard even matters.
We don’t have to be next to each other 24/7; what matters most is that we are never apart emotionally. If there comes one day we have to do long distance, I hope we handle it so well and smoothly that it is almost the smallest of our concerns, because everything we have built together is the pillar of whatever numerical time and distance in between. We won’t have to check our phones all the time and to fuss and fret over Whatsapp last seens and stupid blue ticks because we know we are much more than that; we will reply and tell each other everything anyway. When we acknowledge that this is just a temporary logistical challenge, it will be much easier to come to terms with distance; and if we are in for the long haul, there are bigger things to worry about down the road.
We don’t have to have the same favourite colours or movies or music; he doesn’t have to like books, writing and art as I do or be interested in politics and economics and history… but I hope that in this partnership, we continuously complement each other – our goals and thoughts, little things like being around each other and getting one another’s humour, how we present ourselves, the ways we operate in the household and choose to bring up our children.
We don’t need to show off as long as in our own world, we unknowingly or intentionally can make each other smile, laugh and have fun no matter how serious life can get (or how uptight I can be sometimes); I hope we always balance each other out. Even when doing the simplest of things or nothing at all, may we enjoy one another’s genuine company. I’ll try not to be clingy (hehe) but we should communicate very well and be open and honest always. We will discuss current affairs and work over breakfast, talk and plan our future lives together on lazy weekend afternoons and at past midnight when half the world has gone to sleep, we would confess our dreams and fears.
As much as this is part of friendships and relationships, I hope we have very very minimal fights (better still non existent; I really am not a conflict person). Although if we occasionally do, may we never stray far and always be reminded that disagreements are so petty and insignificant in comparison to the gratitude of having each other to come home to. If we know, and more importantly want it to be us against the world (not against each other) then there shouldn’t be anything we can’t resolve. When there is will, there is a way. There are inevitable emotions when you care for someone, but I hope we are such rational people, very responsible and considerate of each other’s feelings that we never give one another any reason to be near jealous, worried, insecure. 🙂
I think the word ‘unconditional’ is one of those words not to be thrown around because the meaning this word bears is not something one can easily wrap their heads around. But I promise that if I have children, I will love them unconditionally every single day.
I would still be very close to my sisters and as everything around us changes, our bond today never waver. I wish we won’t be scattered around the world though if we do then I have a good excuse to go on holiday haha. I also hope that we are all happy and content with our lives: our hard work rewarded, and our strive to do right and do good grant us peace amongst this chaotic world.
“Happiness is when I don’t worry about how to be happy anymore.” I shall keep the mantra toils these days are worth. Until then, I know how happiness in the future looks like.
It happens like this. One day you meet someone and for some inexplicable reason, you feel more connected to this stranger than anyone else – closer to them than your closest family. Perhaps this person carries within them an angel – one sent to you for some higher purpose; to teach you an important lesson or to keep you safe during a perilous time. What you must do is trust in them – even if they come hand in hand with pain or suffering – the reason for their presence will become clear in due time.
Though here is a word of warning – you may grow to love this person but remember they are not yours to keep. Their purpose isn’t to save you but to show you how to save yourself. And once this is fulfilled; the halo lifts and the angel leaves their body as the person exits your life. They will be a stranger to you once more.
It’s so dark right now, I can’t see any light around me.
That’s because the light is coming from you. You can’t see it, but everyone else can.
Recently I have been catching up on my reading, finally having ample time to catch my breath to do so. This is one of my favourite pieces from Lang Leav. I finished her book in an hour after it arrived in the mail and liked this best out of her collection. 🙂
1st August, Saturday.
A very good afternoon to Mr. Stanley Tan, Senior Operation Manager of ASA, Dr. Julian Davies, Principal of Abbey College, our dear ASA agents who have worked very hard to organise today’s ceremony, parents and family members, guests, students and last but not least, my fellow friends of graduating class 2015.
I would like to take a moment to thank all of you sitting here for giving me the opportunity to speak on this special occasion.
Today marks the end of an era. We have officially completed yet another chapter in our young lives. As I reminisce, I think I speak for every one of us when I say that the days of A-levels as the last step of our secondary education were not all that easy. Indeed, they were filled with many academic challenges and self-doubt, nights that we counted on coffee for an extra push, the countless hours we have spent camping out at libraries and Costa and not to mention the fear of clicking on emails from UCAS. Having said that, I believe these experiences – challenges and rewards, have shaped us to who we are today, and we have emerged as stronger and wiser individuals.
Every step of the way, we have truly witnessed, first hand, each other’s highs and lows. Well, we have pulled through and here we are today, almost at the doorstep of university. Let us not disregard this journey: no matter how much of a struggle it might have been, these days are the evidence of our efforts in striving to earn ourselves a brighter future, one of which our parents hope for us.
Besides witnessing each other’s occasional mental breakdowns, there are of course many good times that we have gone through together over the course of these past 18-22 months. Some of us have contributed an incredible amount to the school, from assemblies to school clubs to charity fairs. I would like to say a special thank you in no order to Terence, Amanda, Chin Ter, Sze and Jian Wei. Thank you all for your efforts in trying to make our school a better place, and for that, it has. Some of us have been on trips around England together and to Malacca and Singapore next week. Some of us have been so fortunate to love and share the same passion, so as to travel 10 hours in a bus to witness history. From little things such as being each other’s alarm clocks in the morning, to celebrating one another’s birthdays and two Chinese New Years away from home together – thank you my friends, for your company and your friendship everyday.
I would also like to take the opportunity to say my sincere thanks and to remember some people who have been part of our journey here at Abbey, some of whom are not with us today. Firstly, I would like to thank our seniors, the graduates of 2014, for helping us settle down with ease in our first year being so far away from home. I can only hope we have been half as welcoming to our juniors.
To our friends and classmates from around the world – thank you for being part of our journey.
To our ASA agents – thank you all for your constant hard work in checking up on us and making sure we are doing well at Abbey.
To our teachers – Dr. Davies, our teachers have been wonderful to us. During my time at the school, I have been taught and inspired both inside and outside the classroom by truly some of the most selfless and enthusiastic teachers. We have learnt a great deal from them and we will not be here today without their kind guidance, compassion and constant dedication throughout this journey. I am also very appreciative to all the other staff members, our heads of year and house parents whom have taken great care of us and been part of our family away from home.
Lastly, to our parents – being the eldest child out of my two younger siblings meant that I was the first to leave the nest. I try to imagine how hard it must have been and still be for our parents that we are so far away from them. However, until I have children of my own someday, I will never be able to fully comprehend what our parents must have gone through. All our parents want is the best for us, and it is very important that we remember that everyday. On behalf of us graduates and children today, thank you mothers and thank you fathers for all the opportunities you have very graciously provided us with. I sincerely hope that we have, along the way been able to do you proud and could continue to do so for the rest of our lives.
As a final thought going forward, to all my dear friends, graduating class of 2015 – this is for all of you. My wish is that as we move on to greater things in life, to university and some day to the world of work, that we never lose our passion: passion for life, passion to learn and passion for what we want to build a career for ourselves from someday. As university gets tougher, may we remember the reason why we chose to study our courses, just as we wrote in our personal statements. If we believe in and hold on to our passion, it will get us through all times, alongside with hard work and perseverance. Live the life you have dreamt of leading and be the person you have imagined being. I wish all of you the very best in life and every success and happiness.
Congratulations and Happy graduation!
20th May, Wednesday. Purbeck Sofa.
When you work for the one and same thing everyday, you start to breathe and live for it. You want it so bad that it is the first thing that hits you when you wake up in the morning and the last on your mind as you drift to sleep at night. It becomes all you can and will ever think about. At least until it becomes realised and achieved, you grow to be obsessed with it. With that intensity and focus, it may potentially earn you the greatest rewards, the life you dream of leading and the person you imagine being. And while all of that consumes you, it also has no less the capacity to suffocate you, break you and quite cruelly, crush you.