Interests.

First thing comes to mind when I spell out that word is a question I asked myself – what am I addicted to ? I could say I was addicted to tv series; back then I could go hours from watching CSI (Las Vegas,Miami,NY you name it) to Criminal Minds, Bones and then there’s the Korean dramas (I have lots of favourites but I got addicted since I watched Boys Over Flower). But I kind of got over it once I entered university. I still watch tv series but it’s not like “I must watch or I die” kind of situation anymore – we all have that phase in life so don’t judge.  Since I was young, I pretty much hopped from one interest to another and yes I get bored quite fast if it’s not my thing. Some things I just do it halfway because I am not really patient to wait for the outcome, hence my terrible terrible skill in baking. I’ve tried baking more than 5 times and I usually manage to mess it up; flat cookies that looks like I’m making paper instead of cookies, burnt cupcakes, burnt cake pfft yes I think a bakery is a wiser option for me. I’m fairly okay with cooking, it’s something I learn so I don’t go crazy eating sandwiches every day ( not really a fan of sandwiches and lots of other food ) so no, cooking is not my interest but I am quite okay at it. I am not really into sports, I like working out to sweat off but that’s about it. So what exactly is my interest ?

I enjoy travelling, not because I get to see these famous places or I have a checklist I need to do before I die. I like being in a new place, to keep moving and seeing new things. I enjoy taking photos of almost everything because it reminds me so much of the places I’ve been – the culture, the environment and even the daily routines there. I tend to forget names and my brain works better by trying to picture a scene instead of remembering name of the road. So when I look back at my photos, it automatically reminds me of so many things. I could say that travelling and photography is something I enjoy doing, but it’s not exactly something I’m addicted to.

Then, here comes books. Yes, I love reading. Give me 6 books I could finish it before 2 weeks is up. I’ve been reading since I was a kid and every 2 weeks I’ll go borrow new books from the library. Nowadays Kindle app  makes it so much easier. I think reading has always been something that I do to pass time or when I’m just too stressed and need a time out from reality. The bigger the pressure, the more I read sometimes I read 2 books a day just to keep my mind off things. Hmm, reading is totally my addiction. But it’s more of a leisure addiction.

The interest that always comes back and keep me hooked is two things – sewing and money. Hah! Omg you must think I’m a gold digger right now. No, it’s not that kind of money addiction like I’m going to marry the guy with highest net wealth. I enjoy making money. I just realized I’ve been involved with raising money since young. I’ve participated in all those festivals during my school days – selling cookies, cupid messages and what not during Valentine’s Day, then there’s that Carnival day and a lot other festivals in schools. I honestly love doing it because that feeling when you create something or you sell something of your own and people love it, it’s just amazing. The older I get, the more I am involved in. Now it’s not just raising money during carnivals in schools but it’s raising fund for charity and for other good purposes which even makes me happier. It’s sort of like I found a purpose in something I really like to do and am even excited that I get to contribute somehow. Thinking about fundraising keeps my brain working , giving an adrenaline rush for me and despite getting tired at the end of the day I am always satisfied. I don’t really care if I’m not getting paid because it’s so much more satisfying than getting good grades (although I love getting good grades and not having to worry). Oh and another interest of mine, sewing ! Those who know me long enough would probably know how crazy am I about sewing. I even thought of opening a sewing cafe in the future! I’ve recently started learning how to make clothes and this coming summer will definitely learn more. I am an intermediate knitter and a beginner in crochet. God, I remember my experience learning how to knit. I spent about MYR 1,000 for everything which was ridiculous but I didn’t really regret it. I don’t really knit nowadays because well, Malaysia is technically not the best place to wear knits but I’m learning how to make crocheted bags now from Wool and The Gang. Go check them out they have the best patterns ! I used to take pillow orders – not just any pillows it’s felt craft pillow a customized kind although I stop doing it already because I went to the UK . You can have a look at my Instagram – Prettylittlehandmades. They were all hand sewn and cut by myself and my mom helped too when I was busy studying. I enjoyed my time doing each and every one of it, new designs,new challenges. Over the summer, I’ll probably get back to cross stitch besides learning how to make clothes. I already have all this crazy ideas to do with cross stitch. The disappointing part was that when I came to university, I really hoped they have needlework society or an extra curricular sort of thing here. I could appreciate the existence of sewing machine on campus but there was none. So in the end, I have to wait til summer to get back to my sewing.

And here comes another question – why all this long talk about interest ? Well, here’s the thing all these interest I have got me thinking about what I want to do in the future. I have this dream of opening a sewing cafe one day, yes mentioned it already but the dream grew into a bigger picture recently. It would be lovely to have a sewing cafe in an academy, a Pottery & Traditional Arts Academy where youth can learn and specialize into traditional arts like wooden carvings, the magic ways of tenun songket, bringing pottery into a global standard with our traditional designs, batik and fabric designs, the art of menyulam ( a kebaya with sulaman tangan is not cheap, not kidding) or even the making of wayang kulit. Why? Because all those fundraising experiences I had got me thinking how education in Malaysia has been so focused about Maths, Science and English and the fact that everyone has to be in the economy,politics or medical sector to have a good stable life that they forget that children today don’t even know the beauty of our tradition. And it’s even worst that our tradition is losing in the market when they are what we should treasure. The only thing I can anyam is ketupat when I should be able to anyam bakul and so much more. It’s impressive how people think there is no market for our culture when that is what makes our country unique and if we raise the standards, we could compete with the world. So there goes, a story about my interests and how it got me thinking about what I want to do with it in the future. Basically open a school and a sewing cafe where I can serve my students tea and cupcakes while I hear them about their artsy explorations.

 

Now I ask you – what is your interest and what do you plan to do with it ?

 

 

 

p/s : Here’s a peek of what I sew before. Oh and if you’re in the same university, the Batik tops were also sewn by me, which I am so happy people liked them although there are lots of improvement that can be done and I managed to complete only 6 tops before flying back to UK. Also the words you may not know , that is in Malay language you can google translate it if you want (fyi if you’re not a Malay speaker)

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Getting there, folks

Earlier today I had a learning development workshop on my frontrunner experience and what got me writing today is about our goals in life. Everyone wants something in this life – it can be as simple as getting good grades to having a stable income or a happily ever after relationship. Which is common really because it is normal for us to want the best for ourselves. What makes us all different is the journey we face to achieve those goals. Some of us have it easy, things just go well for them from the beginning and they hardly need to sweat to get what they want. Some of us work hard to be where they are today , but that does not mean that the previous category do not deserve what they have. But I would say that each and every one of us have a different story to share which is why we should never envy others for their success.

Close up of human hand drawing business plan with chalk

Here’s a picture I got online from a website about the road to success. See, it’s not all smooth and straight forward. Sometimes, the road may be a bit unclear for you and you aren’t sure what to expect. This all comes back to the objective of your goals. When you hit a dead end or a hazy road, you must always ask yourself what is your objective. Why did you choose this road ? What you wish out of it ? And if you walk down a path for the sake of giving yourself a wider option, then ask yourself instead how can you make the most from that path or is it wise to change direction ? Very often we find ourselves in a disappointing position especially when it’s a difficult journey. You feel demotivated and helpless nothing seem to work out at the moment. I’ve had my share of disappointments too and mainly is because I feel I wasn’t good enough to meet my expectations. Lots of tears were involved, trust me. But what I learned today is that no experience is bad experience. All those disappointments, bumpy roads were in a way good experiences too but it’s up to you to see the positive side of it. As for me, I fail more times than I can ever count and that taught me about perseverance. I come out stronger mentally and am well prepared to face challenges I never thought I would encounter. The most important thing about your journey is that never compare your story with others. Everyone is different. You may take a longer time to reach where you want to be compared to others but that does not mean that you are lacking. Just because everyone is racing to reach the finish line that does not mean that by joining them you will have an advantage. Sometimes or maybe for most of the case it’s always better to find your pace and follow your own rhythm. Do not be pressured by the environment, which is difficult I know but you got to know what are your capabilities and your own strength. Also, it’s important that throughout your journey you are able to learn as it’s not about crossing the finishing line first but about what you gain from the journey. So if you’re finding it difficult or you feel that the climb is too much at the moment, take a deep breath and relax. Once you’re ready , challenge yourself again and by then I’m sure you’ll be determined enough you won’t have trouble climbing any walls or crossing any bridges. And one more thing I would like to add, never ever sell yourself short. Do not doubt yourself thinking that you cannot make it. We all have potentials, some realize early while some has yet to discover their potentials. What I do usually so I don’t forget all my little achievements; I review them and write what I got out of it so it’ll be a reminder that I have done this and this and I should be able to face the next challenge just fine like I did previously. So when you have the chance to do something new, something truly out of your comfort zone I say go grab that chance. Who knows what you could discover about yourself.

For the people out there who think that their life is full of negativity, snap out of it and be positive about your experiences. You may have gone through a terrible experience, but that does not mean it will be that way forever. One day, hopefully today you will overcome that hurdle and a clear, beautiful road awaits for you. You know something similar to how the rainbow comes after the rain , sort of. Our journey is full of good experiences , ones that will make you stronger and full of confident. And never forget to always look back to your objectives so you know where to start again when you hit a dead end.

not just a degree anymore.

Trust me when I say there’s going to be pressure once you start university. While school was all fun and happy, college and university is a whole new level of education. People expect you to know more and not just about the subjects but also about the world, the current issues and you’re supposed to even have a certain set of skills. I was more of a mischievous and easygoing kid back when I was in school – skipping class, exploring the neighbourhood and I like to walk around and sort of you know see the world. I had no worries at all except getting good grades which was bearable as long as I work hard. Little did I know that people especially teachers and lecturers had a certain expectation once I entered college. From high school to college to university, that’s quite a transition there. Many of my friends, I remembered them telling about their struggles in coping with the transition and of course I was struggling with everything too. We were so used to reading textbooks and reference books, complete probably 50 sets of exercise books and do tonnes of past exam papers that we forget it’s not going to be that way forever. In college (although the pressure is not too much), teachers would expect you to know more about current issues not just defining terms and concepts.They expect you to learn on your own and catch up with their classes – no more spoon feed, no more reciting answers from textbook . They wanted a better answer than just that. It’s more about just a grade but actually learning and applying the knowledge we gain. The first time I realised about how I lack so many skills was when I attended my scholarship interview. It was a group interview and I think I did pretty fine but I was aware about how other candidates were able to speak confidently about so many things that I didn’t even know. They were really good and I have to admit I was very intimidated. But even then , what made me fully realise about how important transferable skills are is when I’m attending university. Yes, yes you think that uni life is all party and fun , less study more fun fun fun but I think you’ll feel the pressure. Most students will be grabbing the first chance to do something great just so they can build their CV, add their knowledge and experience and shape themselves to have a better career prospect (but they party too when they have the time). No, good academics is not the only guarantee anymore that you will secure a job. The competition is huge because everyone wants to climb the ladder ASAP , live a good life and settle down early. Employers don’t just see your degree, they see what you’ve achieved so far in your extra curricular that probably could define you as a person. They want to see what’s different about you and in what way you can contribute or how you can contribute differently to the company. It’s pretty competitive and you need good grades and good transferable skills to back you up so you get the job. Here’s a chart I got from World Economic Forum about the skills every student need in the 21st century. I find it very useful as it’s sort of  a personal skill list for me so I would like to share it with you –

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It’s obvious that literacy and numeracy is at the top on the list. I would say that foundational literacies is what you get from your academic learning but the other 2 categories is definitely not something you learn from a book. Those transferable skills are something you learn throughout the years of experience and believe me when I say, the more you participate in the things around you the more you would gain. For example some people don’t see the need to join volunteering activities because you don’t get anything out of it, but technically you do get something out of it. Probably more than you ever realised. I used to be horrible in communication. I can’t even talk or engage in a professional conversation. I had a low self-esteem or thought that my thoughts were rubbish compared to what others are thinking but getting out there, speaking and actually try to engage with people gave me that confidence to communicate. It made me different. And I think that’s how we get out of our comfort zone. One of the things I did that was impactful for me was volunteering. I volunteer a lot. Not like you know volunteer in Africa or things like that but it’s all the same. I learn to connect with different people and actually forced myself to do small talks. I’ve also seen many of my friends who’ve been actively participating in something they love and I could see the difference in them, the skills they obtained and how they mature over the years. So for those of you who are stressing a lot about getting good grades and secluding yourself just so you have all the time in the world to finish reading the whole book collection in library, give it a break. It’s good that you like to learn but it’s good to go out sometimes , mingle or challenge yourself to do something different, to be out of your shell. It helps building the skills you will definitely find handy when you’re in the working life. I wouldn’t say it’s a competition but to me it’s about self- improvement. If you can go further, improve to be better and by doing that will increase the chances of you landing an amazing job along with first class degree , I say go for it.

On a side note, for all you people who love the environment and dislike how forest burning is allowed in Indonesia every year here’s a petition that you can sign so we can make a difference , give pressure to the companies involved and hope that something will be done so we can put an end to it. No more haze or drastic climate change. You’ll be surprised to see what companies are involved in this and how they’ve been ignorant over the years. Join over 200,000 people and sign the petition. You might think that it won’t make a difference, but every effort counts. It is what it takes to change.