Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Art of Embracing Defeat

Could I have chosen a better title? Perhaps, perhaps.


I'm starting to learn that as you grow up, it's not that you become better at winning. (Let's face it, in the world today, it doesn't seem like anybody's winning.) You're not always going to be harvesting luck or constantly succeeding. You don't "finally win", but rather, you simply become better at accepting defeat.

One and a half months into 2017, and it's felt like a couple of the most difficult months of my life. I'm not gonna go into an "I'm a mess and my whole life is feeling like a sinking disaster" type of rant but I will say that over the course of only several weeks, I've fallen far too many times without even having the time to properly get back up. And maybe this has happened to some of you too.

See, one failure is normal. It's hard, sure, but by now, everyone knows about the "sometimes you gotta fall first to get back up" speech. But there comes a season where you don't fall once, or twice. You fall perhaps, sixteen different times. In the span of three weeks. Or you find yourself in a chain of waist-deep, bad-luck, why-is-this-my-life situations from the moment you wake up to the minute you fall asleep.

There's no reason for these phases; they just happen. Even to the best of us.

When asked about what my New Year's resolution was a few months ago, my answer was simple:
"Survive."
And boy, was I correct.

The truth is, and it hurts a little to say this, my year so far has consisted of more failures than successes. More setbacks than leaps forward, more mental breakdowns than spiritual awakenings, and more heartbreaks than parties. A fitting metaphor for how my life feels like right now would be a beat-up truck driving through a muddy road of unpleasantries. It's not apocalyptic. Despite spending many afternoons in bed crying or being depressed over countless things, I know that this is just the "ashes" part of my life that I will rise from.

But how do you cope?
  1. Allow yourself to feel. - Your emotions are valid in this process. A lot of people tend to say "Aw, don't be sad," when trying to console a friend and frankly, it's not a sentence I like to say anymore, both to myself or other people. It's better for me to just admit that yes, I'm feeling sad this afternoon, and that's that. I'm feeling angry or anxious or immensely tired, or maybe all of these things combined, and that's that. I don't suppress my feelings hoping to maintain composure throughout my life because in reality, life isn't linear. It's not a line that steadily goes upward. Sometimes it goes downward and sometimes the line turns into curves and even makes circles. One of the hard things I've also recently learned is that my friends aren't always going to be there for me, and that's just something I have to live with. So in times like so, the least I can do is be there for myself. And through all of this, I've learned that allowing myself to at least have feelings is just one of the signs of accepting, and honouring, myself. Let yourself breathe and give yourself room to be human.
  2. You should laugh it off if you can. - It might suck if you constantly fail in biology or you broke your car one too many times or you find yourself having these setbacks in multiple aspects of your life but come on, guys, it's a little funny. As a person, I like to use dry humour to conceal my real feelings or emotions. Not in a cynical way, I'm just that type of person. But when life starts to suck, turning it into something to laugh about could be the ray of optimism your soul desperately needs. Honestly, "hahaha I can't believe how crazy/stressful my life is right now" sounds a lot better and healthier than "I want to kill myself because I hate everything that is happening." No problem is eternal. It's 2017, everyone has solutions to everything, and deep down, we all know that. So for the time being, if you can, just laugh and acknowledge the mess that is your life right now.
  3. You move forward. - If your life also feels like a beat-up truck driving through a muddy road of unpleasantries, stopping the engine won't move the truck to a better location. What do you do to get out of the road? You keep going until the road ends and leads somewhere else. In such a difficult time, maybe you'll spend weeks crying about it, maybe you'll find a way to laugh about it, or maybe you'll just have to work your way through it. But whatever storm you're facing currently, someday you'll look back and see how it shaped you. This final step takes a little bit of forcing yourself, but hey, sometimes you need some tough love to be able to keep going. 

Because I haven't written in a while, I do hope my post today makes at least a little bit of sense to you. This isn't coming from any research or profound knowledge whatsoever, of course. I'm speaking purely from my experiences, and what my heart is telling me this afternoon.

So friends, my hopes for you is that you hang on. I also pray that you could come out from a season of trials a little braver, and a little tougher, because that's what the world needs right now. Brave and tough people, who don't give up easily. And lastly, I hope you look within your heart, and you finally hear that tiny voice, relentlessly whispering to remind you, "It's not the end of the world."











Thursday, November 10, 2016

Life Lately | Internships, Harvard, and More



It seems that with every post, I always start with "so much has been happening" or "it's been a crazy week" or something like that. Is that just me, or does this also commonly happen with other bloggers? I think it's factual that the last 2-3 months of the year is always the most beautiful, but also the busiest times in our lives. Listed below are some things recently happening in mine:

Internships
For a Personal Development class at school, the final program we're assigned with happens to be an internship. We're expected to reach out to companies that relate to the field we want to pursue for university/our careers, and then ask for an internship position in their company. It'll only last two weeks and will be held next year, but I'm definitely feeling the pressure of having to find companies that will want to take me in. I've sent e-mails (to several of them) and so far, zero responses. Maybe it's because these companies are located outside of my town, but I still feel like this is a bad sign. However, I'm still being extra hopeful and trying my best to get a response from those inside my city as well. Either way, I'm praying that wherever I'll end up in (hopefully somewhere good), I can make the best out of it and gain valuable experience along the way.

Green tea
As pictured above, lately I've actually been loving green tea. I started drinking a cup every morning ever since the start of the month and found that it did make a difference for my well-being. Most people take it for weight loss or "fat-burning", but for me, it isn't the case. To your body, it does give many benefits (boosts metabolism, antioxidant-rich, lowers risk of heart disease/obesity, etc etc), but for me, I've just found that it helps a lot with my anxiety. With so much stress, sitting down and thoroughly drinking a cup really gives a clear head space, and the tea just calms me down. 


A Harvard readiness test

About a month ago, our school took us to the World Education Expo that was held in town, where we got to come in and see many different universities, talk to representatives, and gather information at the booths. One of those universities was the Leadership Management Institute from Singapore. LMI happens to be a school people can enter when they wish to enter one of Harvard's liberal arts programmes. A prep school, of sorts, officially tied to Harvard itself, that allow you to take their intensive course in Singapore to get you ready for your Actual Harvard Admission Test. From there (LMI has a 95% success rate), you fly off and become an ~*Official Harvard Student*~. Quite impressive.

Upon the chance of talking to them, they gave me (and a few of my friends) a free chance to take the Harvard readiness test (originally you had to pay $100, no kidding). This is basically an online placement test that tells you whether or not you're suitable to enter LMI, and henceforth, Harvard standards. We had 60 minutes and it consisted of critical reading and integrated writing. I decided to take the test, and it was pretty complex but I did expect it to be. Two weeks after, they sent a "Congratulations!" e-mail telling me I passed the test. I was surprised, to say the least. They started contacting me and asking to meet up with my parents and I to "discuss the next steps". 

Of course, it's Harvard (the ultimate ~*dream*~) and I could just consider a major in Creative Writing if I had the money. Become a change, pursue something different, make my Asian heritage proud, you know? But realistically speaking, I knew that Harvard was beyond what I could afford (both time-wise and financially). I only wanted to try the test just to see if I could ace it (plus they gave us free Harvard water bottles). Getting admitted into the school gave me an assurance that I'm capable of more than what I give myself credit for. It made me feel a little more confident. But this whole process also told me that sometimes windows open, but that doesn't mean you can just fly through them. There are times where you need to contemplate on the consequences and what it'll actually take. To know that I could've just said yes to LMI and follow a path to become a Harvard student and change my entire life and shock everyone, the feeling is indescribable. A small opening to step out of my life now and go and pursue a whole different, unimaginable life for myself. But for now, I'll just make peace with the fact that I stumbled upon the opportunity, but it was all I can afford and it is enough. Who knows? I might try Harvard some other day in the future. But not today, and that's alright.


Preparing for TOEFL

Because I'm preparing to leave for university next year, I've been stacking up on my portfolio pieces as well as catching up with the English requirements. For studying in Australia, most would recommend IELTS instead, but I opted for TOEFL just to go for something a little more universal. I'll be taking the iBT test this Saturday. I've taken a couple of simulation tests before and have found them to be quite tricky. My final results were always sufficient but I still want to try to achieve more.

So for this I bought a TOEFL iBT prep book. I wouldn't normally purchase a book to study it on my own so this ~*responsible and determined*~ step did make me feel good about myself (even though it was because my family recommended me to and because I was scared of failure). The book was costly, but it contains 400+ pages of guidance for tips and skills to pick up along the way. Also, it gives a deep insight to each iBT section, complete with a disc and several model tests to help us practice. I started using it last week and this week I'm determined to finish at least one pre-test in the book (in the midst of the crazy storm that is my life right now). Let's hope I make it.

Living in the moment
To be real, my life has been a mess. The things above are just some of what's been keeping me extra busy these past few days (I'm talking tests, assignments, and a whole lot of e-mails). But if there's something I've been learning to do lately, it's to make peace with the present time. There's this quote that I keep reminding myself, "No amount of worry can change the future, and no amount of regret can change the past." From this, I learn that when I give in to the habit of beating myself up for every failure, or when I let myself become discouraged because I'm scared of what's ahead of me, it just does a lot more harm than good.

This also has to do with the fact that I have less than a year of living in my country and city now. Next year, my life will already be drastically different, and at that point, that bad grade I got in math class won't even matter at all. I'm not giving up, but I think it's time to stop being so hard on myself. To stop being so fixated with what's behind or in front of me, and make something of today. To give a little room for myself to breathe, and stop thinking about "what I have to do" or "what I should've done", but more about "what I want to do now".

Gosh, what a lengthy post!
But thank you for stopping by and reading this (or maybe bits of it, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't read the whole thing), and please leave a comment below because I'd love to know how you're all doing. :) You can always follow me on my social media as well.

From the girl who's got a lot to learn,


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Songs You Should Already Be Listening To


Happy November 1st!

I have to say that there was a time when my playlist had been looking a little dry. But over the course of October, I did find some amazing tracks, and some of them are so great, I find myself repeating each one. Most of these songs listed are actually quite popular, so give them a listen if you haven't already!

  1. Never Be Like You - Flume ft. Kai - Strangely I heard this song a few times before rediscovering it, but this one time my friends started singing to it and instantly I thought, why haven't I loved this song yet? It's on repeat nearly every morning. Such a good beat.
  2. Say You Won't Let Go - James Arthur - I couldn't remember how I came across this one, but first I thought it sounded mainstream. After a few times, I was stuck. The lyrics are so nice *swoon* and it has a beautiful tune, to be honest.
  3. 24K Magic - Bruno Mars - Leave it to Bruno Mars for making a track that miiiight be a little R-rated, but leaves you hooked. Not the best to hear from him, but it has that awesome jazz, old-school vibe I've always loved him for.
  4. Heaven - OneRepublic - If you haven't listened to their new album (Oh My My), you definitely should. I heard of the album release quite a while ago but never got around to checking it out. But my boyfriend recommended some to me and this track is definitely my favourite. The rest aren't bad as well!
  5. Subway Car - Marc E. Bassy - It's going to take a lot to try and find this artist online, but honestly, some of his songs are just rad. His style of music is very authentic and different from other small artists I've come across, and this song in particular is addicting.
  6. All We Know - The Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan - Out of all the songs on this list, I'll be honest, this one has the least lasting effect for me. But if you're still a big fan of the Chainsmokers (like I sort of am), you won't regret checking this out.
  7. Inside Out - The Chainsmokers - This song, however, had a very lasting effect. I'm so in love with every second of this track, from the verse all the way to the chorus. The tune is so so good, and I find myself singing this over and over again.
  8. Walls - Kings of Leon - I found Kings of Leon after spotting them at one of Taylor Swift's Instagram photos, and now I just wish I'd discovered them sooner! Their new album (Walls) sounds pretty convincing, and this one song is very very nice.
  9. Capsize - Frenship & Emily Warren - As far as popular songs go, this one became quite well-known, but not so popular to the point where it becomes mainstream and overplayed. So that I love. I think it's a killer track, and it's exceptionally good.
  10. Elevation Worship - My ultimate, favourite music discovery from October has to be Elevation Worship. For fellow Christians out there, I'd totally recommend their newest album, Here as in Heaven. The songs are astounding and there's something about their sound that is really breathtaking. I'm so stuck on songs like Resurrecting, Here as in Heaven, and O Come to the Altar. The lyrics are absolutely powerful and amazing as well.

Have you listened to these tracks before? Do you see any favourites?
Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you. :)

Have a good month.