Coping Mechanisms

For a period of time when i first started school, I was known by my peers for disappearing from campus for days on end even though we were right in the middle of a busy semester. Every time I saw them, it would appear as though we hadn’t met for months. Truth is, I did come for classes (at least those that required my attendance) but I had begun to develop a penchant for skipping school on a whim.

There are mornings when you roll out of bed before your alarm rings and you’re naturally ready for the day’s torture. Then, there are days where even though you retired to bed early, you rise as if you haven’t slept and every inch away from your bed makes you want to burst into uncontrollable tears. Whenever I feel that way, I roll away from my responsibilities and transform into a burrito that’s incapable of dealing with that day’s worth of cruelties.

I’m not escaping reality. I’m coping. As much as I may sound like an irresponsible 5 year old when I take these unapproved absences from school, I believe they make me stronger. Find a way of coping. Even if it’s unorthodox, mildly irresponsible and occasionally involves white lies, find one and stick with it.

I’ve recently been trying out detachment and it’s been working out reasonably well. Unlike school days, I can’t roll away from my corporate responsibilities the way I want to. So after days of commenting on weather and falling into bouts melancholy, I’ve come up with a new way of dealing with the hard punches and brutality life tends to throw at us.

It Was Good While it Lasted

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You weren’t my first, but you were there when I needed you most. And even though you didn’t come with brown leather seats or a wooden basket like I hope you would, I thought your mediocre looks and your unpolished frames would deter other suitors from swooping you away. I guess I was wrong.

The last time I saw you, we chastised your thin rubber wheels and your loose steering. Daniel was singing a line from a song I never knew existed, mocking the way I swerved dangerously from side to side when we were together. “I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars, no handlebars.” Later I would know that it was by the Flobots and it was one hell of an irritating tune.

You left for work with him one morning, with me holding faith that you’d shorten his morning journey by a good twenty minutes and that you’d be patiently waiting for him when he returned at dusk. Yet when he called and muttered “I can’t seem to find her.” I wasn’t very much surprised. People had warned me about how easily good rides were taken from them and a particular one had ended with the good fellow riding home with a missing leather seat just minutes after he had sought company in her beauty.

But what I cannot comprehend is why you left us with nothing to remember you with. Not a lonely wheel locked to a metal bar, nor a frame left bare without it’s tires and steers. You were gone. In your entirety. Even the fire red chain lock we purchased the same day we got you, hoping to keep you safe, was taken. Granted,  it worked more like a talisman than a shackle, but even today, we still keep the keys.

We never got to mastering the art of having you carry us both on your feather like frame, neither did I get to snap a photo of us on our last day. And even though we already set the price your future buyer would pay when we had to leave you, the good luck didn’t really work that way.  You were gone. Just like that. With nothing left for us except a hazy memory of you down the uneven bricked lanes.

P.S: Cousins, brothers and sister-in-laws, spare me the nagging and keep this from our mother/your aunt. Said bicycle will be replaced soon and she’ll be none the wiser.

Depressed My Ass

The study table I never use is in a seemingly irreconcilable mess and my laptop is bruised and battered from the constant road trips I bring it out on. In fact I cannot remember the last time I left my house without it weighing down on my shoulders and I think I might never get used to the lightened load if I ever decide to leave it at home.

Teenage girls are complaining about suffering from depression on their brightly colored blogs; their laments a lackluster companion to the smiling selcas and YouTube videos that relentlessly vie for attention. Depression? What do you know about depression when your life is a backdrop of cafe hopping, OOTDs and an ego that’s constantly being inflated by your army of loyal readers? If having a generic bad day that involves you lying on your back in bed for 20 minutes wondering where your life is headed and then crawling under the showers to wash away the tear tracks caused by an inexplicable sense of failure translates into depression, being psychologically healthy would be a real rare trait.

Yes I’m complaining. Because the words cannot help but bubble over from the cauldron it has been forced to marinate in. We think we have it so bad, that our lives are a mess and conveniently use our occasional sadness as a pity card, a winning marketing strategy. Truth is, that sadness you think suffocates you on the rare days you succumb to it? That’s not depression, that’s called growing up. And growing up is hard. It’s not life threatening, neither can it be clinically diagnosed and printed upon a label you wear around your wrist. But growing up can keep you awake on many nights, tossing and turning till the sheets are rumpled and your sanity a jumbled mess on the ground. Some people have it tossed in their faces and others savour it served on a silver platter. Growing up sucks, but some of us just have it easier.

So please don’t pull out the insanity card and bemoan the sadness you have in your life. Because everyone has it, and when it really sits on the brink of your lucidity, it doesn’t feel like a popcorn kernel ready to explode. It’s the slight weariness and the white space you see when your thoughts empty from your mind. It’s the sleepless nights that have no beginning, the nights that even a tiny pink pill cannot bring you the repose you so desperately crave. It’s nothing.

Growing Up

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Been working on my e-mail signature, resume and LinkedIn profile for the past tens of hours and I’ve reached one conclusion — growing up is difficult. Also, LinkedIn is like a sinister version of Facebook where every move you make is scrutinised by potential co-workers, bosses or competitors. It makes uploading a profile picture one of the most stressful things I’ve done this week and that’s perhaps the reason behind why the summary of my life still remains an empty space on that page.

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There are tests to sit for and exams to take, but somehow I’ve been learning to take things easier these days after that particularly hectic September — and my first step is to take my time when it comes to replying work emails. I believe that things will fall into place, if not today, maybe tomorrow.

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Surrender

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There are days where you feel invincible, days where you feel as if the mere tipping of your toes will hoist you high enough to pick a star out from the night sky. These days, everything you do is adequate. Even the mere act of breathing makes you revel in the fact that there’s so much you can do, will do and have already done that you will one day compile into a heaping list that’ll give meaning to your existence. Days like this, you wish will never end.

Then there are days where you feel like a sail boat on windless sea. Days where hours spent relentlessly working amount to nothing, like scribbling with white ink on white sheets, like dusting cupboards during dry storms. Days where you try so hard but get no where. Days where light blinds and darkness suffocates.

Sadly, today is one of those.

I don’t have pearls of wisdom or words of comfort because most of us have these days that nothing can turn around. Reassurance stings like swabs on wounds and advice falls like bitterness at the back of tongues. Bad days remain bad despite all the good in the world.

But it’s alright, because like everything else, days too shall pass. Good ones, bad ones, they’ll all fall into the valley where we’ll forget to pull them out for scrutiny so even when we look back, we look pass them, through them, away from them as if they never even happened.

So just hold on tight and keep your knees a little too close to your chest for comfort. Let this bad day reign over you, will it away and celebrate its passing. Oh, and admit defeat. The earlier you surrender, the less it hurts.

Image credits: Daniel

Patience

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After surviving the busiest September of my existence, my body has decided to collapse upon itself like a flimsy scaffolding after an episode of particularly harsh rain. The month has been filled with endless nights spent fulfilling my commitments to both work and school, with a little bit of personal fluff vying for my attention. In just September alone, I’ve conquered 4 quizzes, 3 assignments, 5 writing jobs and a wisdom tooth operation. Oh, and my brother got married.

It’s actually astonishing when you actualise your potential and realise how much you can achieve in the shortest amount of time. I feel euphoric, almost arrogant when I look back and it hits me that I’ve done more than I could ever have. It makes me want to leave everything behind (sleep especially) and sprint towards the finish line so I can feel the adrenaline of being suffocated under stress and the mental applause that rings in my ear.

Yet while the sense of accomplishment and the confidence boost still courses within my veins, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s one thing knowing how much you can achieve when you push yourself beyond your limits and actually doing that every single day. Now that I know, I look back and pat myself on the back almost parent-like, appreciating the determination and tireless nights. But wanting a repeat performance of that? I think that’ll take awhile.

My mother is most annoyed with me when I come home triumphantly waving a 75 mark test paper in the air, carrying it as though it’s a plaque of honour. I’m always contented with being moderate. I wear a smile on my face and a badge of gratification upon my chest whenever I feel as though I’ve done well enough. Not amazing, but well enough. Yet to many, enough translates into a state of perfection they can never reach.

Patience is a virtue. Life is short, but it gets shorter when you’re too caught up with achieving a level of productivity society does not appreciate. We will never be fast enough nor good enough to meet the standards of everyone. So since we won’t be achieving perfection any time soon, why not slow down a little and take things in our stride? We’ll get to being enough one day, but this journey isn’t a race so take your time to enjoy the road. It makes finding the best of you a little more interesting and a whole lot easier.

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P.S: I am trying to create a page where I can share images unabashedly with you guys, but I’m still working on it. It’ll be up soon!

The Day I Went to a Cafe

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I never liked cafes. It makes me uncomfortable in a way that I can never fully comprehend, almost like being trapped in a glass chamber under heavy observation. I think it has something to do with the rise of indie culture and how people in cafes are always dressed in an artificially laid-back manner that sets my skin on fire. Intentionally comfortable dressing that looks comfortable but actually isn’t. I don’t like the indie culture very much.

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Yet on a rainy afternoon, amongst hectic schedules and intense editorial meetings, I found myself walking into Loysel’s Toy, looking for something I wasn’t sure if I was going to find. But my shoes were wet, and my shoulders heavy. For once, the scent of fresh brew and the clinking of cutlery seemed inviting.

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What was I trying to look for? I don’t really know. Perhaps it’s the budding of first loves or the reconciliation of lost ones? The serenity on the faces of coffee drinkers? Or the fluster and frenzy of the servers hurriedly pulsing black liquid into the bellies of white mugs? What do you look out for when you’re sitting upon wooden chairs and eating upon wooden tables? What captures your attention and gives you a reason to stay? The food wasn’t sublime, it never is and never will be. But yet there’s a strange attraction that cafes have that keeps the seats filled and the coffee cups empty.

I don’t like cafes, but I keep going back, only to be left more confused every time.

I don’t like cafes, but I do?

There is Potential for Love

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Sitting in a corner of Coffee Bean shivering to my icy death on a painfully uninspiring Thursday evening, a text from a long-time friend makes me realise that the elusive love we spend our entire lives looking for are actually seeds sown in the ground and waiting to bloom.

There is potential for love everywhere. A slight liking towards a new friend, a flush that blossoms on your cheeks when he calls out your name to say good morning along the hallway, the slight touch of an attractive stranger when he shuffles restlessly in his seat. Perhaps we’re all too blind from the lists we have subconsciously constructed from the people we would like to have in our lives to notice the ones that actually are.

While we’re constantly searching for the coifs of perfectly gelled hair and rolled jeans that leave a perfect amount of his ankles exposed, we miss out on the things we wanted in the first place altogether. We push away inklings of love, the could haves and the would haves, in search of what reality tells us to be the perfect relationship. The healthy one.

And while we put on veils, masks and a wonderfully set up disguise, we miss out on the ones who love us for we who are underneath. We miss the ones who internally acknowledge the relentless efforts we put into making ourselves perfect yet love us blemished, crumbled and crushed anyway.

The Day You Stopped Drinking

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Sometimes I think he’s just hiding. That alter-ego that you affectionately call your delinquent past cowering behind the blinding brightness you have become. Occasionally he comes out to play when the coaxing and mellow whispers prove too tempting to dispel. But most of the time, you keep him hidden under chains and shackles, under the weight of your morose, sobriety and numbness.

I take out a beer bottle, it’s cool surface kissing my lips and sending delectable chills of pleasure coursing through my skin. All that’s missing is the celebratory clinking of glass against glass — the sound that differentiates drowning of sorrows from joyous intoxication. But the clinking never comes and neither does the happiness. It’s hidden, muffled alongside the person you strangled within.

I long to see him again, for a chance to at least bid farewell the proper way. I long to see the shadows of his writhing form swaying on the dance floor, the exact motions of his moves already lost in my memory. I long to blow him a kiss, sending with him the part of my past that should have left as companion. The part that now lives in the present, agonised and longing your return.

I Will Be Great

giraffe The other day we were at Starbucks, you picked up a magazine and leafed through it absentmindedly, periodically stopping to take a sip out of the Hojicha Latte set upon the table, equidistance from you and me. When the swishing of pages paused for a little too long, I barely noticed, until I felt the uneasiness of your eyes boring holes through the book I was holding.

“Is this your article? Oh my god, it’s your name! In a legit magazine. In Starbucks!”

“Yeap, that’s me.” I quipped before snatching it over to snap a photo for my mother who’s still hung up over my drop out from Law School. “What is that.” She cooly replied.

I want to be big in the industry. Big, as in you’ll be saying my name in hushed whispers big. Big, as in you’ll be envious of my life spent living aflutter and be jealous enough to leave spiteful comments on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Big, as in big enough to pick up a random magazine on the news stands and either find my name in the mast head or as reference in a feature.

The sad news is? I’m still frightened. Frightened of the gargantuan figures in the industry, of the interviews I have to attend and the small talk I have to make. I am inferior of the way I talk, the way I laugh and the way I hold my wine goblet when a toast is proposed. I hide behind my laptop, behind the false sense of security it provides me, pushing out words I carefully compose and artfully string into a melody.

The sad news is? I’m not there yet. Not near, nowhere close. But it’s okay, because sometimes it’s fear that sets the heart ablaze and lights up the long winding road ahead. And I’m alright with that.

Some day, I will be great.