I was on the phone with The Mister when my heart skipped multiple beats as I saw the empty parking lot where my car supposed to be parked. I exclaimed, ‘The car’s not here!’.
I was borderline frantic – ‘I couldn’t have parked anywhere else! This is where I park day in and out!’, I said in annoyance and anger when The Mister suggested if I had parked elsewhere. I walked rather clumsily down the slope to a lower level, and still no car.
The Mister probably thought, here we go, another Thara-moment but he calmly and courteously told me to try look in the level above my designated parking spot.
There, it was – clamped, because I had parked at another resident’s spot for three full days. After burning a RM200 hole in my pocket, unclamping and moving back the car where it belonged, I gave this incident a long thought.
A colleague turned friend pointed out, ‘Really, you thought it was stolen? Like what are the chances, considering the security and downright better options for cars to be hijacked at your place!’. Right – my logic reasoning must’ve shut-off involuntarily. Why was I even annoyed at The Mister for trying to suggest I look at a different level.
The great Master Oogway is absolutely right – ‘The mind is like water. When agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.’ Someone quoted this to me several months back, and suddenly it clicked to me. This has been the evil root to most of my tribulations, especially professionally, in the past year.
I got worked up unnecessarily. And man, was it exhaustive to live a life (read: work life) constantly in anger, dissatisfaction and having to be defensive. Although it was generally situations worth frowning upon, in some instances, there were simpler solutions and things were not that big of a deal as I’d thought.
I looked at it all as a big mountain to conquer, and lost myself in a massive plane crash of To-Do lists in my brain with emotional thunderstorms. These days I’m more (trying to be) calm and I look at things rather objectively.
This write up may not be one that you expected, a funny anecdote of how I lost my car. This is simply a reminder to myself (and others) who need to hear this : When it seems like the sky is falling on you, just take a step back, calm the shit down and look at the bigger picture. Don’t bark at people who’re simply trying to be of help. You’ll figure it out.
Also looking for career alternatives – you think I got what it takes to be a new age therapist. Hit me up for unsolicited advices and hard truths about life, Asian style.
Public Service Announcement : If you are not so into long winded ranting and are looking to read something related to the title, please proceed to Paragraph 8 onwards.
Almost exactly a year ago, we had the date set for our wedding. It felt as if this auspicious date, given by a prominent priest from India, was tattooed in my mind and heart. 5th December 2020 – a just-nice date to still meet Vision 2020 which used to be an inside joke on our wedding deadline.
Like a true millennial bride-to-be, I was on the most reliable wedding research platform (God bless Instagram!). Our family and friends were eagerly on board the wedding planning. I must say we were extra efficient.
Circa mid-February, we had all the booking done – the hall, make up artists, caterers, decoration, flight tickets for shopping in India and 10-day itinerary for the honeymoon of my dreams in Land of Pasta with a detour to feed the Red Devils in us. I had my first choice of all vendors, and I was a happy girl.
It all came crashing down with the big C, least did we expect it. Then, around end of September, when MCO ended, there were glimmers of hope. In that time of sunshine and all season of glass-half-full, we shopped for wedding attires, with The Mister on video call. And then, it was again a downhill ride with CMCO announcement, which was to last until a day after THE day.
My emotions were haywire, one moment I was indifferent, and in another I was crushed. It was nothing short of roller coaster in a haunted house, with work partially burying me alive one side. The Mister was supposed to be back in the country from the land of bland food, and a whole lot of background work that had to go with that with quarantine and what not.
One day, we had a family meeting on WhatsApp, and both set of parents echoed the same thought – that we should have something on the supposed wedding date. We decided to go ahead with Registration of Marriage.
My super efficient father managed to find a registrar of marriage and venue. I picked out one of my sarees gifted by MIL for a pre-wedding ritual. The Mister arrived a week before, with pink bracelet on his hand. We shopped for his clothes after he was a free elf. My sister got the cake, my SIL helped with my accessories. Our go-to Jobest Studio spared us a cameraman in the eleventh & half hour. Everything was last minute, and I barely had time to stop and reflect.
Our ROM happened in a small hall, in presence of our closest family members (unfortunately, many missing with the Big C curse). It was not AT ALL like what we had in mind. The registrar made The Mister propose to me (I’m pretty sure his voice choked) and pose for awkward pictures, with the crowd watching. As it is, The Mister and I are always in the running for The Most Socially Awkward Duo award, and you can only underestimate how we grinned the whole time.
We cringed watching videos from the day. Despite it all, I would not have it otherwise. Our parents, siblings and loved ones were all smiles. I can’t pinpoint a favourite moment from the day. Whether it was receiving the hand bouquet which The Mister picked for me (my favourite thus far!), our ride in the car after the ROM to lunch reception at Taj Garden (yummmm food!) or when the registrar told us to be best friends and crowd murmured ‘They are!’ – it all still makes me giddy (like girly, giggly giddy).
It does not matter that it wasn’t a 1000 pax affair, with grandeur. I got married to my best friend. After 2221 days of being my boyfriend, The Mister is legally my former boyfriend, now husband.
Signed and sealed, for a lifetime of quirky games, inside jokes, petty fights, gossiping, TLC and being us.
For memory record sake : This was blogged from The Mister’s gift to me on our ROM, after a grilled salmon with asparagus dinner, while The Mister is losing a FIFA21 game on his PS4.
If I described 2018 as a roller coaster ride, it’ll be shamefully an understatement. So, let me do it justice.
It was like going to Disneyland all smiles and glee, and then someone offered me a sack of gold coins for me to get on a ride. The ride made me nauseous, and I couldn’t get off halfway. I had this nagging passenger right next to me – who kept nagging and made me lose my mind. But what kept me going is the thought of that sack of gold coins and my cute little plushy which I had carried along in my pocket (which I beat up whenever I struggled on the ride). At the end of the first ride, I was so thrilled that it was over, and extremely grateful to sign up for another ride.
Okay laaa, that’s a bit drama. But now I feel I justified my 2018 chapter the right way.
So, like every year, I am going to summarize the highlights of my year. So, here we go, a reminiscent walk through my 2018 memories.
Crossing items on my 25 Before 25
I’m a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, always been one despite being not-so great at accomplishing them all the time. In 2018, however, I did not write any yearly resolutions. I resorted to completing my 25 Before 25 (which I will blog about soon!), a list I wrote when I was still doing my undergrad studies in UTP. It wasn’t a typical bucket-list of sorts with skydiving and all. It was a simple list of random things I wanted to do. Some of the things include :
Learning hand lettering
Volunteering for Build for Tomorrow
Watching Disney on Ice
Piercing for a second earring (my Amma isn’t a big fan of this!)
The list is about 80% complete. Obviously I’m cheating a little there, because I turned 25 last September. But I decided to give yours truly an extension until February 2019.
Completing my postgraduate studies
When I enrolled for my Masters program, I had one motto. Finish on time, on a high. I repeated that to myself; and in one way or another my close knits also kept me on my toes. I am more than exhilarated as I look back on my postgraduate journey. I think I did good. 🙂
Going into 2018, I told myself that I will look for another as soon as I completed my Masters. Two weeks into 2018, I was already looking at job ads like an addict. I applied for my current job circa January 2018.
5 months and 8 stages of selection later, I got the job along with 9 others from all over ASEAN coutries. It was a ASEAN Graduate Programme which requires us to switch roles at different locations for 2 years. Now I’m almost at the end of my first block. If I have to be frank, some days are tough. I climb 2-3 stories high monkey ladders. I get asked if I am an intern at least once a week. But I am grateful for this opportunity – to spend 2 years to look for what exactly I want, and learning from the best people along the way.
4. Living Alone
My life has changed 274.5 degrees with my new job. I have to relocate every 8 months for different roles. For my first block, I was deployed (chewaahh) to Johor. After graduating from UTP, I had lived at home for a year and half. Transitioning to living alone was a little nerve wrecking in the beginning. This was different from campus life (I had the bestest roommate ever!).
The first time I cooked nasi lemak for a Saturday lunch and sent my Amma a photo, she replied, ‘Where you buy from?’.
I bought scented candles, bought so much groceries (and throwing half of them, because I have no sense for expiry dates and portions). But living alone is not as miserable or pathetic as I imagined it to be! Sure, I do miss proper home-cooked meals. But living alone also teaches you a lot – like use a peg to dry your clothes so that your jeans don’t fly away from the 21st floor.
5. The Mister’s Grand Introduction
I made up my mind about this circa 2016. I will introduce The Mister to my parents in the best possible manner, even if that meant that I’ll have to wait a little longer. I wanted a proper introduction, and I wanted it all to be certain. So, just a couple of weeks before my graduation, I called Amma and told her that The Mister is coming for convocation and that she should tell my father.
I came out of the hall in jitters, saw The Mister standing with the family. Everyone just grinning sheepishly.
Little Twin : Achu, pass ah this Etta?
Acca : Does he watch football?
The Mister : *sheepishly nodding*
Acca : What team?
Me : MU.
Acca : Then okay, pass.
You see, mine’s a conventional Indian family. You can be 25 and still be anxious about having found a boy you like. I was just relieved that the cat was out of the bag after being in there, gasping for air for FOUR years (although later Acca sarcastically told Amma, ‘You think I don’t know anything ah? I know.’)
As I complete this write-up, it dawns upon me that every part of the highlights deserves a blog post each. I keep saying this at the end of almost every year, (and it’s always true!), but 2018 has been the most eventful year of my life *clears throat*, thus far.
Happy New Year to all who’s reading!
May we all have a better 2019, and all the strength in the world.
P/s: I have not been to any Disney parks, so that was purely fictional. But, no, that entire first paragraph felt so real as I typed it. 😛
If I am a philosophical and oh-so cliché type, I would start this post by saying ‘Change is the only constant.’. But I would not do that, obviously. *inserts hahaa!* Fair to say, I have not gone through major unexpected events in life (I have seen people had it worst). As I thought about writing this, it came to me that I could classify the changes that happened to me into two; 1) Expected, generic changes and 2) Conscious change – when I made up my mind to change something.
Honestly speaking, tougher of the two is making a conscious decision to change. I’m not going to lie, I have had my fair share of struggles with this. Be it leaving a relatively well-paid job to join a graduate trainee program, enrolling in postgraduate studies full time while working a full-time job, moving on from the worst mistake of my life, and even deciding to stop sucking my fingers and scarring my forehead, it was all WORK. What helped me most in these transitions are three things, conscious self-reminder to be resilient, supportive circle of close knits and lots of information.
Resilience, I think, is something that we must work on. In the face of challenges or adversities, don’t uggghhh too soon. Be solution-focused instead of problem focused (I’m working on this!). December last year, I discovered this book called ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ by Spencer Johnson. I liked this book so much that I bought 3 copies of the book for my friends. It is a story of 2 mice and 2 people who live a in maze, looking for cheese – I bet you’d find it an easy read.
2. Seek for Support
Always confide in and discuss your thoughts with people you’re close with. I was lucky enough that I’ve had people around me knocking my head, slapping me with hard reality and being supportive sweethearts. Don’t beta yourself up feeling weak, because sometimes we all need *sings* somebody to lean on!
3. Gather Information
Look for enough information about the situation that has changed. I am big on researching, no matter how petty a matter is. It is always consoling to understand what you’re going to face (are facing) especially if it’s a new job, new project or even a new romantic partner. If research tells you no-good news, then at least you know now! Be prepared for the worst – this goes back to #1, be resilient.
When I gradually stopped my skin-picking habit (I self-diagnosed myself with skin-picking disorder before my dermatologist did! See, research helps.), I was not used to looking at my face without that scar on my forehead. Some days, I’d just pick on my skin at the same spot, just to feel that comfort (stop rolling your eyes, Mister!). That’s how changes haunt us sometimes, like something’s not right. BUT, it’s just a phase, you’d get through it. Because… change is the only constant! 😉
Note : This blog post is part of my 30 Days Microblog Challenge which I began in September 2018. To read more from this series, you can select ‘Microblog’ under Category. Or, search for #therainbowhatmicroblogs on Instagram. 🙂 Topics for this series are a mix of my own brainchild and prompts from my Insta-friends.
Remember that night, when we were in the car heading to grandparents’ in Bahau. You were fast asleep in the car, when the Acca suddenly pressed the brake. You fell down, and hit your face on the car seat, and you cried in pain. Acca said, a cow drove recklessly. You just nodded, and sat through the rest of the journey imagining a 4 legged animal driving a red car. A driving cow made your lips bleed.
No, Thara. Cows don’t drive cars. And the Moon doesn’t play hide and seek with you.
Dear 8 Year Old Self,
Remember that girl in school everyone made fun of, because she wasn’t quite right in the head? You too, did the same. You used to walk away if she sat somewhere near you inthe canteen or assembly. You thought she smelled funny. You even laughed about it with your friends. But she was always smiling, greeting everyone. Until, one day, she just wasn’t coming to school anymore. Teachers said she shifted to a different school, with a special class.
A few years later, you’ll see her, clad in secondary school uniform, walking with her mother by the road. She smiles as she walked by. You sat in the car, with heaved heart and teary eyes. She was just trying to make friends. You should’ve been nice.
Dear 12 Year Old Self,
You thought you had it all. In fact, you felt superior to your peers. You were the school topper, Head Prefect, and you knew that the 2005 Tokoh Pelajar Award had your name written all over it. You enjoyed being in the limelight. And you just knew, you were destined for bigger things.
You didn’t know then that all the medals and certificates you took pride in would mean nothing to your purpose in life. And do not lend your books, especially Harry Potter to others! It’s funny how you were so clueless, yet confident and snobby.
Dear 16 Year Old Self,
By now, you learned that the world revolves around everything, but only you. When you get your exam results, you convince yourself, if you could do this good even without even trying hard, imagine what could happen if you worked as hard. That’s your recent area of expertise. To convince yourself, to come up with reasons and excuses. You aren’t doing as good you ought to, but you aren’t doing bad either? You had great friends, you were in the Top 10. You’ve still got some limelight, although you’re not in centre stage.
You just know that if only you put in some work, you’ll ace many things in life. Well, lemme just tell you, you never got around doing much. Neither did you become a freelance writer, nor did you become a Toastmaster. Nope, not even a scholarship. Maybe, I was meant to be just an averagekinda person? Good bye, 12 Year Old Thara.
Dear 20 Year Old Self,
One day, the only friend from school that you have on campus told you, ‘You’ve changed ahhh’. You used to put yourself first, before anything else’. Her words would be a knock in your head, how you used to love yourself. You would never do anything to harm/hurt your precious self. But you chose to ignore, just brushing off her comments. You just chose to not see things as they were. You got name called behind your back. People were talking. You were just not bothered. After all, they don’t know what was the real situation.
You were just covering up with other good things. You had just won a national competition. You were reading more than before. Your grades were falling, but you could do better if only you tried right? Just so you know, you were wrong. You should’ve listened to your sane self. Oh, and that boy who bought you soup noodles when you were sick? He will mean more to you, than just a friend with car.
Every bit of experiences you’ve had, has made you the person that you are now. That said, none of those define who you will be as a person. Maybe it’s time you dig up all your To-Do’s and little projects you had in mind, and get started.
No, you don’t need 12 hours of sleep on the only weekend you’ll have off until the semester’s over in January. You got this, girl!
Note: Blogging since 2008, and I’ve never written a birthday post for myself. So, this is pretty much just me talking to myself. Psssss.. I’d let you listen too.
On the eve of my birthday, I laid in bed just wildly imagining if my life would take a drastic turn as clock ticked to mark my birthday. You see, as much engineering school teaches one to think with logic and facts, I sometimes (okay, more times that I’d like to admit la) fail at it. I’m one of those delusional types who let her mind wander nonsensically, and reading fictions has only worsened it. I diligently set my alarm at 6.15 a.m., so that I don’t miss out on the exact moment I turn 24.
The alarm rang. It was dark, and nothing seems to be happening. I rubbed around my to find my glasses, because maybe my poor vision was distracting that ‘something’ from happening. I put my glasses on, and still, nothing happened. I just twisted and turned until I was completely awake. And then reality hit me. I was taking this little game far too seriously, wasn’t I? It really didn’t mean much, to want to be awake at the exact moment I turned 24. I just shook the thought out of my mind, quite literally so, and resumed my slumber.
Reminiscing all the above after about 2 weeks since it happened, it dawns upon me how much I’m still so same and different at the same time. I still make up little pretence games, get paranoid over unanswered phone calls (limited persons only) and tear up when I’m actually angry. But, I’ve also changed so much!
10 years back, I was at least 15 kilograms lighter, and thought I’d never grow my hair beyond my collar (so that I won’t have to tie it). That obviously changed, because, now, I am at my (psssss.. *whispers*) heaviest weight and longest hair ever since Amma pushed me out. I’m far more emotional these days, when back in the days, I couldn’t care less. I used to have many friends, but I barely made an attempt then. Now, I sometimes make an attempt, but I have far less friends. What used to be limitless hopes and exciting dreams are now trimmed bucket lists, hidden somewhere in a box on my bookshelves.
Okay, maybe this all sounds too miserable now. I’m actually doing fine. It’s just that all the birthday game got into my head a lot more than little. This is simply a self reflection. A reminder to myself to stop spending too much time with my BFF whose name is Sleep. To those of you eavesdropping, let this string of words remind you how all those dreams and hopes you have for yourself still could happen. You just got to start doing something. Even if it means writing a long blog post that probably wouldn’t even mean much to others.
P/s: The last time I saw myself in the mirror, I still don’t look like Rihanna. How long you reckon the full transition will take?