Thursday, 3 January 2019

Insatiable

Yes, I stole the word from that TV show starring Debby Ryan.  The show's a good play on words.

Insatiable
Impossible to satisfy

If you knew me personally, you'd know that I'm renowned for always eating food, taking photos of food, and posting said photos of food.  This trait is two-dimensional, being both a representation of my greed, and a representation of the importance I must put on what people think of me.  The thing is, this habit has gone on for so long that I simply cannot stop.  It's a ritual.  It's sickeningly satisfying.

Unhealthy habits are born on the basis of repetition.

Anyway, if there were to be a blurb under the heading of this post, it would be: "what I am learning from Malaysia".  Having not been back in two years, there are so many things I had forgotten, aside from the fact that my insatiable personality cannot stop eating food and is paying health-wise, as it has the other 18 times I've spent the summer here.

On the first night, an hour after we had landed, I sat through a dinner in which my uncle discussed my future with me (of course he did).  The conversation had an under-theme of success, money, showing off, and acting International (because god forbid we are Malaysian).  This is not rare with Asian relatives, and that night I wrote, "Perhaps it was these Asian characteristics that I was running from in the first place."  Similarly, at a Chinese dinner on New Year's Day, with all the distant relatives on my grandmother's side wearing Ralph Lauren polo shirts with absurdly large logos, a man interrogated me about whether I was doing medicine for the money, always assuming we are greedy.  My grandfather then proceeded to tell me that this man owned a company that was doing very well, but he was very quiet about it, and how noble was that! - his words

We spent New Year's Eve in a condominium with a view of the Twin Towers, with guests who all spoke English, but in different accents: Spanish, Australian, British, American, and the classic international mix you cannot quite place.  The wives and mothers were in their 50s, dressed like they were 20, saying, "Are you drunk or am I drunk?"  The men were wealthy professionals: doctors, bankers, and spoke of such.  There was a mixed boy with a British accent who looked like Nick Young, speaking of KL bars and clubs and friends who know managers, too smooth to be true.  A girl in a white jumpsuit said she would rather chat over cocktails, saying she was given a tour by the owner of the Crazy Rich Asians house, and was taking her friends Batik painting if you'd like to join.  I felt like I was in the true success story of Asia, like Peik Lin and her family would drop their cutlery and say, "Ayah! Why didn't you tell me you knew them!"  With them I felt pretty, classy, and superficial, and like I could never... switch off *in the same up tight manner my New Year's resolutions are trying to escape. (Is it in my culture's nature to never let loose?)* This is the epitome of what people in my culture seem to want, and I don't think I want it.

However, I am currently sitting beside a mini golf course and a swimming pool... in a backyard.  I have spent the last three hours sunbathing and swimming laps with a red Ferrari and a green Porsche around the corner.  I have spent the last three days using the home cinema to watch Brooklyn 99, and waking up to the sun streaming in through crisp white curtains to a balcony overlooking the pool.  I cannot say I hate it.  I cannot say that I don't have big dreams to one day have a swimming pool and a balcony and a view.

While sunbathing, I have been reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The book has the recurring theme we have all heard before, that true joy does not come from materialistic things, but rather from true relationships and compassion, among other more meaningful pillars of joy.
Sometimes I wonder whether pretending that materialistic things will bring you contentment is easier, because forming true relationships and feeling true compassion is a difficult task that takes work.  I mean, evidently it takes the Dalai Lama 5 hours of prayer every morning.  Perhaps our laziness or insecurity is what makes me, and others, insatiable.

Love,
M


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

NEW YEAR'S

(written 29 December 2018)

I’m currently 4 hours into an 8 hour flight that appears to have zero entertainment, and so far, being alone with my own thoughts has appeared… well, it’s appeared like I don’t think about much at all.  That’s a good thing, considering I was toying with the idea of being more relaxed as a New Years’ Resolution.  Anyway, since we’re here, let’s do the opposite of loosen up and plan my 2019 down to the tiniest detail.

Looking back at 2018, it was a big year, with feeling sad about moving, then actually moving, then feeling independent, challenged, belonging, displaced, loneliness, and having all this overwhelming newness leave me no time to actually think and process any ideas of who I want to be.  I’ve had so many new experiences, but I haven’t had the time to process them in order to grow just yet.  So here, on a flight to disconnected, lethargic Malaysia, seems like the perfect time to analyse my experiences, write how I can do better, and post it on the Internet.

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Let’s start with the classic be healthier. 
I’ve noticed that girls in my dorm are quite health-oriented, as I watch them gush over broccoli, or complain over the lack of colour in their food.  They’ll favour salads over bread rolls, and hardly ever reach for the dessert… and they’re gorgeous.  I was talking to my beautiful, long-limbed family friend on Boxing Day and she explained how she cleanses from all angles – she’ll exercise with 2 hours of dance, she’ll eat only healthy foods, and she’ll work on her skin care – it sounds so logical and simple, and it makes her feel 100 times better so she can live her best life.  And I realise, I’ve never felt that way before, because in my whole life, I’ve never actually had that healthy lifestyle.

I know, it’s easier said than done, especially considering my love for food, and my culture’s love for food, and my bringing up being in love with food. I’ve tried being healthy before, and my lack of self-control always got the better of me within the day.  This time, I need actual rules, and to simply rip the band-aid off.  The plan: No dairy and no useless white carbs unless it’s a special occasion, and exercise 5 days a week.  They say that once it’s a habit, it’s easy.  Let’s see how this goes.

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Back to what I said at the beginning, be more relaxed.
Basically, I need to chill.  I want to be less eager, less rigid, and as a result more open to new people and unexpected paths.  My tunnel vision has limited me, made me seem unreasonable, and made me feel borderline obsessive on so many occasions, and it’s time to stop.  Furthermore, I’ve learned that I’m too tense to just sit back and… laugh.  I can’t remember the last time I really let loose, where I wasn’t trying to impress anyone and I was just gaga happy, high on life, saying things that don’t make sense, dying of laughter.  I need to take myself less seriously.

The plan: empty my brain.  If I limit the amount I think about whatever it is I’m obsessing over, then I’ll obsess over it less.  If I stop thinking about myself so much, maybe I’ll stop feeling like every moment needs an ulterior motive and let. loose.  I need to close my eyes and listen to music as I have on this empty-minded flight, or meditate, or go for a massage, or stretch.  I’m not sure yet, but it seems I have already put this one in action, and want to feel so completely void of expectations in the coming year.  Is a Type A personality something you can get rid of?  We’ll see.

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Stop sharing gossip and personal details with the world
Leaving Sydney this year, I realised I had the awful habit of spouting gossip with whoever I talked to.  Not only that, but I realise I also spouted many embarrassing details about my own personal thoughts.  I’ve always prided myself on honesty, but perhaps being an open book isn’t what I want after all.  Perhaps as I grow older, I need to learn to keep secrets about myself and other people.  It’s like how people jokingly say, “if you didn’t snapchat it, did it really happen?”  Well, for me, it’s like “if you don’t tell anyone then did you really think it?”  It’s like my life is so… public.  I need to learn to be comfortable in my own thoughts.  The plan: start by posting less on social media, and maybe ask people about themselves before talking about myself.

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Speak up more in class
One day I will have a real job, contributing ideas and having them heard, fighting my way to the top of the group to get the role I want.  In order to do that, I need to conquer the daunting prospect of putting my hand up and giving my true insightful answer, without nerves or a shaking voice.  The plan: First up, I need to actually know things prior to class, which means legitimately studying and memorising as I go.  Secondly, I should make it my task to voluntarily raise my hand at least once in every class.  There’s no better way to learn confidence than to fake it to make it, as my 15 year old self would say.

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Travel more
If I’m this miserable and bored every time I think about the wide expanse of coming home for the holidays, all I need to do is be proactive and plan something.  After going to America earlier this month, I’ve established the fact that exposure to a new place is a tangible form of self-growth.  I want to go to educational conferences, adventurous contiki tours with new people, volunteer trips, and relaxing island resorts.  I’ve learned in 2018 that if you need new bed sheets, all you have to do is go to Kmart and buy some.  Is it not the same for travelling?  All you need to do is go online and book it.

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Have more conversations that actually mean something
This was originally going to be, “be less of a drunken mess and get yourself together on nights out”, but I figure I’m 19 for this whole coming year, and can worry about being more mature and put together when I’m 20.  Instead, I’d like to have more meaningful conversations on nights out.  Parties and social events are the perfect time to talk to new people, or make memories with your friends, or find a boy you actually like.  I feel as if this year, I was too immature to utilize these opportunities.  I was too busy relishing this new-found exposure to a life without rules that the idea of going out was more important than the idea of connecting with people.  This year I’d like to do that differently.

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Get a job
Honestly, I live the kind of life to which my parents comment, “She has no idea about the value of money.”  I thoughtlessly spend money on food, clothes and going out, and am clearly willing to throw hundreds of dollars on concerts, and thousands of dollars on trips and experiences.  It’s not that I don’t understand the value of money.  It’s that after working for 3 years, I learned the cycle of spending, and then picking up shifts if you needed more.  It was so simple.   However, in 2018 I was spending in the same manner, but taking everything out of the savings account I’d built over the years.  I need a job to live the way I do.  The plan: apply everywhere for shift work, and don’t be fussy about it.  And when next summer comes, I’ll get as many Christmas casual jobs as I can handle, in the self-sufficient manner I used to.

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Be more organised
This year I have lost countless things, legitimately gotten sick from my dump of a room, and had my mother urgently express post things on numerous occasions.  By observing other people in my dorm, I’ve noticed that they treat their rooms like their home.  They think of things I found frivolous, such as colour coordination, feng shui, lighting and scents.  Needless to say, they love Kmart.  This year, I want my room to feel like my home.  The plan: I need to put thought into storage and decorations from the outset.  I also would like to become a procrasto-cleaner, if possible.

I’d say I want a fridge to store my cheese, but that conflicts with a previous resolution, which makes what I thought were simple goals for 2019 seem more difficult than anticipated.

Love,
M