On Moving Forward

January 31, 2015
Photos by Wai Shin

I like these portraits taken by my sister Wai Shin. You may laugh: I feel like a grown-up.

In your mid-twenties, of course you are a grown-up and you should look like one, or "something must be wrong with you". You see. responsibilities start to pile up on your shoulders, your friends are getting married or pregnant, 'loans' are killing you, nobody will make decision for you anymore, you are afraid of losing, etc. etc... The list that reminds you of you achieving adulthood is endless.   

I used to belong to the "something must be wrong with you" clan. I refused to grow up. I wanted to live young, free and wild forever. 

But instead of "young, free and wild", I was silly, rude and reckless. 

Sometimes I remember about the past and feel like slapping the young me. Thinking of her sends chills down my spine. Was it me who spoke so carelessly and tactlessly? Was it me who shamelessly thought herself a cool kid? Oh my..

And those mistakes and hot mess... you'll say "they make who you are today!" but still it's very embarrassing. 

Back to 2014, at 25 years old, I experienced a lot of changes physically and mentally.

Physical wise, apparently it's true that we need to start the anti-aging mega project at 25. I went through hormonal changes in my body, countless times of tragic skin irritation, lower metabolic rate and I easily feel spent and exhausted. If you are at my age, probably you also realize that you can't eat as much or stay up late anymore. Right...?

Mental wise, the past year was a whirlwind. I was exhausted. I was burned out. 

Countless unexpected incidents occurred. All my energy and positivity ran out. I was contronted with physical and emotional challenges every day. I was constantly questioning my own decision and judgement. 

To be honest, I had unrealistic high expectations about people and things. I overestimated my abilities. What happened was, I expected equality and justice. I allowed some people to step into my life and intimidate me, fear me. I took up too much things, pushed myself too hard, gave myself too little time. I was in a painful situation physically and mentally. My schedules were full,  I suffocated and barely had time for myself. I even took up voluntary jobs. 

And shit always happen.

In the end things got messed up, half-baked and I felt shitty about myself. 

Okay maybe 'shit' is not a decent word but I have yet to find a more suitable-meaning and sounding word in my limited vocab.

This viscous cycle had to stop!! I thought.

So I went travelling and forced myself to read books to pull myself away from this. I called this low time the "complete and merciless devaluation of self". Meditation helps me a lot. My friends and family had been extremely supportive

Now I am out of it. No longer I am feeling bad about myself. No longer I run. 

It's time to face the monsters that feared me. 

Basically there were two simple facts that I understood from the experience. 

1. People around you can bring you down or inspire you.

Your friends can be categorized into two: Worthy friends vs worthless friends. 

Last year I went through some major friendship problems about distrust and dishonesty. I was disappointed and deeply hurt to see far some human being can go to be selfish and greedy. 

Anyway the whole incidence reminds me to be grateful that I have a bunch of people around me that lift me up when I am low. 

People around you shape your personality in the most unexpected ways you can imagine. They influence everything from your hairstyle, fashion sense, favourite movies, your speech to your IQ (Intelligent quotient), EQ (Emotional quotient), SQ (Spiritual Quotient) and PQ (Physical Quotient). 

I knew this cheerful lady who always have a smile on her face, cool tour guide in Kuching, arrogant Mr. Know-it-all, annoying salesperson, fed-up accountant, girl with OCD, humble scientists, confident curvy girl, childish man, funny joker, eccentric Chinese medicine doctor, depressed PhD student, dream-chasers, confident career women, religious and dedicated youths... the list is endless. 

Every single person I've met has left a footprint in different ways. Be it an inspiration, an awakening truth, a negative example or a plain companion, they have shaped my mind. 

Surround yourself with people who share the same values and beliefs as you, support and love you.

2. Learn to feel good about yourself.

Do not compare yourself to any body. 

Comparing yourself to any body is like committing suicide. It kills your own spark, your own creativity and the courage to move forward. Not only it demotivates you, jealousy is a green eyes monster that blocks you from being sensible and rational. It is perfectly fine to take your own pace and do it whatever ways you feel comfortable with. Don't you think being happy is the most important thing in life? 

Perfectionism kills confidence and happiness.

Doing your best is enough. It is not wrong to ask for perfection, but I just think it is unrealistic to expect it. The want of perfection freaks me out, suffocates me. 

I learnt to tell myself, "It's okay, you've tried."

Understanding your own ability is more important than proving yourself blindly.


Good things happen, shitty things happen. That is perfectly normal. Good things enable us to rejoice, bad things teach us lessons. I've learnt to be grateful for all the misfortunes because when I think deeply about it, never was there a moment more awakening than this.

This post needs to come to an end before I continue rambling and bragging. Or else in the future I will want to slap myself for disclosing too much.

In 2014, we had harsh lessons about how fragile life is. Doesn't it amaze you that we are alive and able to meet? Isn't it crazy that our lives cross in some paths? Thank you for being in my life, in whatever ways.

Thank you.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. 

Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. 

The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours.”

― Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

Good luck and may you be well. I want you to be happy and comfortable with yourself.

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