all the ‘what ifs’ & missed opportunities.

A chat with my dear friend the other day on ‘what ifs’ and missed opportunities made me realize how much these words actually affect us on daily basis and our decisions in life and I feel it’s just so important for us to know and understand certain things why sometimes it’s the way they are regardless of the amount of effort you put into it.

When I was in high school, I used to skipped classes but with no bad intentions whatsoever. I did my homework, submit them on time but I’ll usually be absent during classes. I thought attending school was for me to learn. So that’s what I did. I learned, I knew what was going to be taught by the teacher and I see no point sitting in class when I already know what was being taught. I left class so I could explore things that were not taught in classes, like actually seeing the world. I was more of an adventurer or more specifically a wanderer. I loved walking through the streets, going from one housing area to another, stopping by to grab some food as I pass by a random McDonalds I find along the way and I could do that for hours. As a child, I was curious. Curious with what the outside world looks like, no filters or restrictions by my guardians. So I figured it was okay to skipped school, because I was told to go to school to learn and I didn’t neglect my duties, I just had a mind of my own.

Of course my teachers did not agree to this modified view of mine and reported my absence to my parents and although they were furious (more like worried that I was turning into a problematic child), they understood where I was coming from. I remembered them telling me that the school has a system for a reason and you can’t just change it however you like because you were bored. Not being bored and staying in school is discipline itself, mum used to say to me.

So I changed my intentions again about school.

I went to school to learn, only that I didn’t have to wait for the teacher to teach for me to learn. I spent all my boring hours in classes learning myself, completing revision books like it’s my daily homework, stay at the library and read as many books as I could and take walks in between classes. I was still a curious kid, but I learned not to break rules just for that. I still believe that what my behavior about school at first wasn’t exactly wrong, but mum always reminded me of the ‘what if’ factors which was mostly worries on my safety and well-being.

And in a way, I was thankful now that it happened the way it should be and I wasn’t harmed or damaged in any way because of my youthful curiosity and careless actions.

If you ask me how I felt during that time, I was frustrated and angry mostly because life was restricted for me and I just don’t understand why it had to be that way.

I didn’t understand, which is always the cases for all of us isn’t it?

We don’t always understand why things don’t go the way we want it, even though we planned it with good intentions or worked really hard for it. Sometimes our goals backfire and we go back to square one, leaving us demotivated and super super disappointed with ourselves, the world and we blame everyone and everything for this mishap. My initial career aspiration was to be a doctor and I loved tending to sick people, going to the hospital but I graduated with a degree in Accounting and Finance, something far from the medical field.

I had doubts, regrets initially but I did try my best, surveyed all the potential medical schools and I didn’t give up till it was time to accept the scholarship offer. Later on, I realized my own qualities and capabilities would not have made me a good doctor, or even a good medical student for that matter. Things didn’t unfold the minute I made my decision, but it was more of a slow, gradual realization about my own capabilities, strength and flaws. I let go of the opportunity to study in the medical field not only because the scholarship was what I wanted, but the circumstances I was in, my result, the potential in the path the scholarship offered and most importantly my own capabilities. At that time, I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision, but the minute I accepted that I was going down that path I focused only on that, putting behind all the ‘what ifs’ and the opportunities I let go.

I studied hard for my A-Levels, put in all the extra efforts and my intentions were clear; get good results and go to a good university to get my degree. So when the results were out, I was once again beyond disappointed and I couldn’t even explain why things were so bad when I did nothing but study. I had to go through clearing, letting go of all the conditional offers from good universities and start all over again. I was sad to let go of those offers but I would have been even more devastated if I couldn’t go there to further my studies.

But now when I look back, I have no regrets or any disappointment about how things went the way they did.

The university I went offered so much for my personal growth, made me feel like I was in a community where I belonged and I’ve learned so much from all the opportunities that came my way. Some people would have looked down on me when they see the university I attended wasn’t a fancy with big reputation university but it wouldn’t have affected me because my intention to go to university is to learn, and I did learn so much.

All these personal hardships taught me that sometimes, what you think is the best for you might not be the case. People always say that missed opportunities only mean that there are better ones waiting for you. In a way, that is true. But I also believe those opportunities that you miss may not even be suitable for you, or you’re not ready for it yet. If you don’t work hard for your goal, then I guess that’s also a reminder for you that you need to buckle up if you want to grab those chances. But if you did work hard and still had to choose something you didn’t initially choose, there’s got to be a reason somewhere for it to happen that way. And no matter what your choice had to be, always remember your intentions. If you didn’t have a choice to choose, as long as the path given was one that is in line with your initial intention, I see no reason why you should be disappointed.

What you make out of that choice is the one that determines how much you’ll get out of that process.

So, my point here is don’t be too quick to punish yourself if things don’t turn out the way you want it to be. I know it’s difficult sometimes and it’s always easier said than done, but believe me I do know how it feels to give your best and yet things turn out to be a huge disappointment to you. I’ve gone through enough of that, I thought things wouldn’t get worst but it did, but also here I am today still surviving. So it can’t really be all that bad you know. It messes with your mind, makes you think over and over again what is it that went wrong or was it that you were so unworthy that it was taken away from you.

But trust me now it doesn’t have to be that way.

Take it as a lesson, a self-reflection would suffice and then just continue be the best version of yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes along the journey and learn, learn about the journey itself and learn about yourself. Though I must say that not all ‘what ifs’ are bad, some makes you think in a positive manner and that’s good but if it’s detrimental to yourself, why put yourself in a situation like that. Save yourself all the misery and think of it from a positive perspective instead. It’s all a learning process, a journey to discover our potentials, capabilities and our personal development.

There will always be some ups and downs in life and some things are beyond our control which is why we have to believe in ourselves and believe in the path that has been laid out for us and most importantly is to make the best out of it so that in the future, be it good or bad news at least you’ll be able to accept it knowing that you did your best, you gave your all and there’s nothing to regret but to see it as a motivation to do better and be better in the future. 

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Remembering you.

I’ve been caught up with family matters for the past few months and I know the routine by heart already now. As I was doing my rounds to check everything is in order and the doors are locked, I walked pass by my parents  bedroom. With the room door slightly open, dark and empty the house suddenly felt so quiet. I feel so alone. Staring at this computer, I wanted to blog something here about what I feel but then it’s all messed up . I took some time to think of a suitable way to express my thoughts and realized that the best way is to remind myself of  the memories I share with my dad. I want to remember the memories, and all the feelings that came with it. I’ll visit every memory I have with him and walk through it one by one hoping that I’ll never lose it.

I don’t think I can recall the first few years of my life but I remembered the day I started kindergarten. As a child, it probably is frightening to be in a crowd of strangers. I guess despite the excitement, I was also afraid of being alone in a class surrounded by people I don’t know. I can’t remember how it happened but I knew my dad sent me to the class on my first day.  It was all good until he left. The moment I looked back and see that he is not outside of my classroom, I cried so bad all I wanted was to go home. The teachers had to call him back and when he came back, standing there it was all fine again. I felt safe. It went on for two weeks. I don’t remember exactly how many days but I knew he accompanied me every day and I would learn in class and look back every few minutes or so. Every time I looked back, he was there smiling and just standing there looking at what I was doing. Even when I think about it today, I can tell how I felt back then. I felt safe knowing that my dad was there looking after me and he’s just a few steps away.

Another time when I was in kindergarten as well, there was this concert and I had to dance chinese dance. I was dolled up in my cheongsam and red lipstick. Although I can’t remember the dance or who my partner was, I remembered looking at the audience finding my parents. The moment I saw them, standing by the door because there wasn’t any places left and it was so crowded but they were still there, I smiled happily. During the closing ceremony, we played Christina Aguilera’s song ‘I turn to you’ and it still got me all teary up til today because I remembered how they were being squeezed by other audience just to be there for my performance.

I remember the days when we would go to Lake Garden cycling and have picnics after. I was still using the tricycle and dad would be cycling by my side making sure that I don’t fall. Oh, there’s this one trip we went together which I think was one of the few outings I did only with my dad; a visit to the National Museum. I recalled seeing this huge crocodile and I asked my dad if it was real because it looked so real I thought the crocodile was alive! It was also the first time I learned about our culture and the ‘kampung’ life. I can’t recall any activities similar to this one, it’s probably the only museum I’ve ever visited with my dad. Dad was a strict person. He gets annoyed easily if things are not as how it expects it to be. The family would often argue because of the differences but he always wanted the best for us. I know he shows his love in ways that sometimes nobody understands. He gets protective to the point that it’s frustrating but only because he loves his children. We used to watch TV shows after dinner together and I often fall asleep halfway because I get sleepy so easily. Dad would usually carry me upstairs then and put me to sleep. Sometimes I was half awake but I let him carry and tuck me in anyway before dozing off.

Between all the memories, one thing I’ll always remember is how dad accompanied me to the sea every single time we visited the beach. I love the beach although I can’t swim. I like being in water and just watch the waves. I wasn’t afraid of drowning, probably because every time the tide pulled me, I would find my dad’s hands and hold onto them. Even when the tide pulled me and I lost my balance, dad’s hands would magically pull me back up. We had so much fun when we were younger, my siblings and I especially when we’re at the beach.

So much memories, so much feelings attached to it as well. There were also a lot of fights and tears. I was a difficult child. I wanted freedom, but my dad was always worried of my safety. He is so used of protecting his only daughter that even when I’m old, he would do his best to take care of me. He’s the one person that I could be in the same space and not talk for a long time but never gets awkward, just a comfortable sort of silence. I never really understood his way of loving but as I grow older, I learned to read between the lines or in his case, his attitude. He never knew how to raise a daughter so he kept me as sheltered as possible. He made sure that I had everything I needed, including discipline and manners. He tried his best to make sure that I don’t have to go any hardships while I was growing up . He made lots of mistakes as a father, but I know that being a father doesn’t come with a manual. He got me angry, sad, happy and all kinds of feelings before and despite not being a perfect father, he was the father I needed. He loved in his own ways and did his best to be part of the children’s lives.

I tweeted not long ago about how I felt hopeless and yet still very hopeful. I feel hopeless in a way that I cannot help him be better but I am hopeful, hopeful to God for him to be safe and return back to being healthy. I wish that my kids would one day have the chance to meet dad and have the privilege of being loved by him just as how he loves me. He taught me that as a child, we don’t choose our parents and we learn how to adapt to their ways. He also taught me that a father is also human who does mistakes and have flaws of their own. And for that, I would forgive him for his unintentional mistakes and love him always in my own way too.

3 years in a post.

So, I know I’ve blogged about graduation but that was an emotional, rushed post using my phone , typing away in a hotel when I had a short break in between my duty as a tourist guide for my brother in London the other day. Now I’m back home in Malaysia, I’m probably going to be home for good unless I decide to work elsewhere in a few years. Nothing though beats the feeling of being back home, a place where you belong and welcomed anytime. Thankful that I have a home to come back to, can only imagine how lonely that there are some out there who are less fortunate. Anyway, got reunited with my laptop and desk so I’ll be continuing my previous post about university and a reflection of what these 3 years taught me.

For me, university life was a turning point where I learned so much, being alone far away from home and all that. I went to the UK with minimal fear as I had a partner and it’s always less scary when you’re leaving your comfort zone knowing that you’ve got somebody with you. During my first year, I was staying in an accommodation that was thirty minutes away from the campus and the area was still undergoing development so buses were not frequent. I walked almost every day and missed probably most of my 9 am lectures trying to adjust to the late bus timing and fast walking pace. Because I was far from my other Malaysian friends, I wanted more activities to be done among the Malaysian society. It was the beginning of my involvement with the Malaysian society and how I discovered my passion for fundraising. The accommodation I stayed was called The Maltings and I lived in block D, level 5 room 5 along with 5 other international housemates. We not only shared a kitchen but also shared memories together. I would usually take bus no. 61 as that is the only bus that pass through the accommodation and occassionally will buy doner kebab from the shop nearby called Albany Gardens Kebab Fish n Chips. I never liked lamb meat, it always tasted off to me but when I was in the UK, I learned how to eat it and most of the time it’ll be with rice dipped with lots of garlic mayo to kill the meat taste. It was my first year in university that I learned how to write a manifesto. Thanks to the vice president at that time who also became cultural convener and VP International later on, I got the fundraising position as part of the Malaysian society team. She taught me a lot about taking up opportunities available and even create them if it isn’t already available. Many friends have inspired me to do better in life and I’m not one that compares success but I get motivated in pursuing my own passion when I see others being passionate about theirs. So in my first year, I applied for my first job with the Students Union Finance Team as a finance assistant but got turned down because I did not fully prepared myself for the interview. I told myself that it was a good interview experience and that I shouldn’t be too bumped by it as it happens all the time in life. So I focused on whatever that was lacking, got feedback and advices on how I can improve myself during interview sessions and took notes during the Big Essex Award workshops. In spring term I then came across a frontrunner placement with the International Office. I decided to go for it and submitted my application form. The frontrunner scheme not only gave me a UK working experience but I was constantly learning new things as attending workshops was part of the placement programme. I started the frontrunner scheme when I was in my second year, throughout autumn and spring term. It was my first official job in the university and I was so pumped up about it. I also applied for the student ambassador role which I thankfully got in my second year.

Second year was a bit more organized for me. I settled in my new home which is the Tawney North Towers. Its relatively cheaper than Maltings and I could save so much from the rent. In my first year, rent was quite high and since I travelled to a few places – Cardiff, Snowdonia, Edinburgh, Glasgow, ZipWorld, Sardinia I almost had no savings left by the end of the term. So when the university offered me an accommodation with cheaper rent, I took it up without any hesitation. It was an accommodation with 11 other people in a flat and we all shared the kitchen. The plus point was that every week, my flat was the hub for fundraising preparation. Malaysians would gather to prepare food early in the morning and sometimes the night before which was really nice although tiring. Between 8 am to 3 pm on Wednesdays I would be busy running around with the team, making sure food was okay, sales done properly and everyone got their food orders. It was so funny to see random Malaysians coming down the stairs looking so basics ( me especially, in my pyjamas and sweater ) to refill hot food at the stall in Square 3. But everytime we managed to sell our food, it was the best feeling ever. It adds a smile when the locals tell us that they’ve been waiting for our food since morning or that they want the recipe because it tasted amazing. But the best feeling from our fundraising activities? It was seeing Malaysians meeting each other when they buy our food and hang out. Its when they come together and help prepare the food despite having lectures until late afternoon. You don’t always spend time with your Malaysian community because everyone has their own crowd and this was the time where we just catch up with everyone and ask if they’re doing okay. I had troubles waking up for 9 am classes but on Wednesdays, I didn’t mind at all having to wake up earlier and sleeping late the night before just so I could feel again the feeling of home in university. Of course I had to really plan my time because with 2 jobs on my plate and the fundraising position as well as my studies, I can’t really afford to be lazy. So I learned to prioritise. I spent less time exploring and streaming videos on weekends because I needed to catch up on the tutorials and sometimes even on weekends I would be working as student ambassador. The pay wasn’t too bad for both of my jobs and I enjoyed my work very much. It helped me pay for my Iceland expenses as well as my addiction to Japanese food (they’re so expensive in the UK! ). My Iceland trip was magical to be honest. I loved the atmosphere, the adventure and how calming everything was. I also went to Croatia and part of Bosnia for my spring trip in second year. Both places were just as beautiful. I enjoy travelling and going on adventures especially exploring the nature. My time in Grenoble was all about climbing mountains and walk pass scary bridges that swings when there is wind. Because of my packed schedule, I miss quite a lot of events in the UK but I never missed going to Nottingham Games, partly because a dear friend studied there. But I never really focused on anything else except what I already was focusing on. I also joined the SU pop up scheme, opened a Batik shop for 6 weeks as part of introducing Malaysian culture to the university. Then I came back during the summer and thought that it was time to do an internship. So I interned with Khazanah for 3 months, made friends throughout that short journey and learned quite a lot for an intern. The pay was also quite good. I enjoyed Friday mornings where the department will have breakfast together potluck style. It was also during that time, a few weeks after my birthday that I was not feeling the best. But putting that aside, things got better slowly with the adjustments I did. Friends were really helpful and them being there for me was all the support I needed.

My third year, I had an initial plan to simply focus on studies and life. But then I figured I had quite a lot of free time and I didn’t like having nothing to do. So I joined Kalsom as their fundraising officer, focused on my position in the Societies Guild as their charity and fundraising officer representative and applied for more jobs ! I think at one point I was addicted to work so I had to find a job. I ended up working with a start up company as their Outreach and Recruitment Officer which deals with a mixture of research and marketing. Together with another colleague, that was the first time I learned how to design a prospectus from scratch. It was a long process, from finding ideas what kind of information we want to put in the book to assembling it together with the design so that it fits the theme nicely and ensuring that its a book compact enough to fit all relevant information. My contract for that job was 12 weeks but I got offered to extend the contract. But knowing that I’ll be home in a few months and I needed the time to focus on my studies, I had to turn down the offer. I was also still working as a student ambassador but less frequent as I was focusing more on my voluntary positions. Third year was really nice in a way that I made new friends, visited friends during various events and learned about the many inspiring things that our fellow students around the world are working on. I also learned how to live on my own and care for myself (which I failed miserably at first but it got better) and it made me appreciate my alone time more than ever. I liked the feeling of coming home to my room, everything looks neat and waiting for me. Lighting up my candles after a long day of studying and work, catching up with dramas. I loved how busy life was but at the same time it was all mine as I had nothing else to worry when I was there except for myself. I didnt have to care for another or made sure that I left enough food before leaving the house to work. There were days that I was lonely and needed to talk to someone and thankfully my friends were there to listen to my emotional rants. I shared my happy moments and small success with my parents more often although they barely understand because they were not physically there with me. I tried doing new things, travelled to visit friends and enjoy the little moments where things were perfect. My room at Thomas Hopper Houses flat 3 room 4 was amazing. It was the perfect size for me, not too big and just right. I don’t really favor big spaces so the size was just perfect. I enjoyed going around the university and take random photos, knowing that I’ll be leaving soon. Sometimes I just stare at the people in the square, memorizing the atmosphere and feelings. The last few months of my final year, I studied really hard. I was afraid that I didnt have enough marks to pass but I did, thankfully. My study place to go would usually be my room where I’ll be holed up for more than 2 days before seeing the day again, the SU bar (just because I get my mocha and black coffee from the starbucks there) and sometimes the library as well as Orangery. I loved eating breakfast at the Canteen, they serve english breakfast and that’s where I learned how to eat baked beans. When I want food to go I would stop by at The Kitchen for my tuna melt panini, absolute favourite and on Thursdays I usually get pastries and cakes from the Thursday market. I loved the lamb kofta at Fusion and the chicken wrap in Frangos, absolutelt delicious especially with cheese and mushrooms as extras. I dont really fancy the burgers in Happy Days but I go there for the waffles.

Most of the time when I’m not having my alone time, working, studying or travelling I would be at Keynes North Towers penthouse where 2 of my lovely friends lived. The four of us would hang out in the living hall, do our own thing and rant at each other in between breaks. I usually have my meals there too because I hardly cook. Then sometimes I would invite my other friend who’s a walking inspiration over a meal when I feel like cooking proper food. Cooking with housemate and best friend was done sometimes when we have free time. After exams was over, it was time for Ramadhan and this was the first year I welcomed Ramadhan away from home. I had my first tarawih with the important people in my life and couldnt have done it any differently. There were a few sad news this year but I am ever grateful for all the little things in life. I came back over the sunmer and went back for a week to attend my graduation. Alhamdulillah your girl got a first class honours in her degree and she was so thankful that she managed to pull through her degree life. This year taught me a lot and several events in life got me leaning closer and closer towards the Almighty. I cried and asked for help from the One that could make the impossible possible. I didn’t cry anymore having no anchor in my life because I now know that the anchor I was desperately looking for lies in His answers.

Degree life taught me so much but it is not the end of me learning as we all continuously learn in life. I can’t tell what the future holds but at least I know now that I won’t back down easily anymore. I came out stronger and wiser ( insyaAllah ) and I hope that with the knowledge and lessons I’ve gained during my degree years, it’ll help me be wiser in facing my future aspirations.

So this is it, my super long post ( probably the longest ) about my degree. You can’t rewind your degree life so the best you can do is to remember every memory , every detail and this is what I’m doing by typing it here.

Grad ? *gasp

So yesterday, your girl finally graduated with honours in Accounting and Finance. Yes, graduated although I’m still having a hard time digesting the fact that I’ve completed my tertiary education. When I got my result, the initial reaction was just a mere ‘oh yay’ and I felt mostly relief. I wasn’t really excited about the graduation ceremony because I was already back home and the lazy side of me was being lazy about going back for graduation. But I am so so happy that I decided to attend the ceremony because it was such a beautiful moment. I get to see students like me graduating and being celebrated by their loved ones, the atmosphere at university was really amazing and cheerful it gave me instant dose of happiness. I went for my graduation, took my certificate and when I went back to the accommodation only I had time to see my certificate. Okay, no kidding but when I saw my cert I teared a bit. It’s overwhelming but a mixed feelings of every other emotions. I know I’m not describing it well but I want to pour this thought although I am super sleepy and having difficulties to form the right sentences.

3 years in the UK, a single piece of paper but it is a paper that means so much to me. I almost cried thinking the fact that I got through it all despite having part time jobs and voluntary positions during the term. All those nights, those sleepless nights where I couldn’t even afford to sleep because the moment I lie on the bed I start to worry if I’ve studied enough and end up waking up again to study until morning. Every day was a constant mix of worry and pushing myself to study as much as I can because I can’t afford to waste time (that typical last minute revision). The past 3 years was amazing but I was handling a lot more during my final year. I enjoy working so I gave the internship scheme a shot, preparing my interview the night before with few hours of sleep. Learned a lot through my voluntary positions which is always exciting and challenging. I was also travelling a lot during my final year and in between prepared for work interviews.

I have to admit that some days I don’t take good care of myself. Some days I hole up in the room, do my thing and just shut myself from the world. And then there were days that my body just decided to stop functioning on its own because its reached the maximum stress level. Final year was so meaningful because I went through it alone for the first time in my 3 years of degree. I had friends obviously but I was focusing more on myself this year. I realised that self growth is personal and we can’t really drag people with us if we want to grow. So much of the experiences I went through this year taught me about maturity, emotions and most importantly responsibilities. I realised that loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be with them all the time. You gotta let your partner grow at their own pace too. And that nobody is perfect. A good laugh on rainy days are always the best medicine to cure heartache. Apples are the food to go when you’re sick. Black coffee will give you the strength to stay awake and focus. If you’re stressed, take some time off and do what you like. No way you’ll be productive if you sit in your room for days without seeing the sunlight. Exercising helps with the stress, a lot. Surround yourself with people that constantly challenge themselves. You’ll automatically be motivated to explore your own potentials. Eat your instant noodles with veggies and protein (so you can tell yourself that it’s not exactly unhealthy). This one is important – you don’t need to have many friends and be likeable by everyone. You just need a few that truly understand and matters to you. It’s always easier to be nice to people. Take random videos of moments spent with friends and family, they will be precious to you. Explore the world ! Can’t stress that enough. Always find excuse to learn new things and listen to others before forming your own opinions.

Then there is this one lesson – never ever look down on yourself. It’s fine to be in doubt but don’t sell yourself short. You are a precious human being, well loved by God and every day is a new day for you to improve yourself. Never let people make you feel small and weak to the point that it destroys yourself.

Final year was one important year to me. It taught me so much, made me understand a lot and realise the greatness of His power. It taught me to be consistent in my efforts and to always pray that my efforts will be rewarded. It was a year, but so much more than just another year.

That’s what that single certificate mean to me. I have no idea what lies ahead but I am thankful and blessed with all the years that was given to me and the lessons learned while I was abroad.

If this don’t make sense I’m sorry because this is me typing while I’m half asleep. I just wanted to type down this feelings so that I’ll never forget what graduation did to my emotions. And here’s to a new phase in life, meeting new inspiring people and bringing change to the world every day.

the hospital and I

Cancer ; a word that carries heavy meaning to it and also a word I’m so familiar with. I’m deviating from my usual environmental post to talk about my experience related to cancer. It started when I was twelve, right after mum decided to stop work and be a full time housewife. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t me who was diagnosed with cancer but my grandfather. He was the first that I know of to be diagnosed with cancer and it was colon cancer. The treatment came soon after he was being diagnosed. I was already a regular visitor of SJMC (a hospital) since I was young, again not because I was sick but I was often given the duty to accompany others for their medical checkups.

With my grandfather’s treatment, I visited the hospital more and more, sometimes on a daily basis. I remembered how my weekdays schedule were; Mondays and Thursdays I have tuition for two hours after school and at night I would drop by the hospital if grandfather was admitted. On days that he goes for treatment, mum would pick me up and we go straight to the hospital to wait for him until he finished his chemotherapy treatment. Grandfather was in stage 3 at that time, so he went for chemotherapy. I would spend hours sitting, talking to my mum or read a book while waiting for him. I often have my lunch in the hospital cafeteria too and I personally prefer the cafeteria in the old wing. The cancer department was in the new wing so I’d usually cross a bridge to the old wing for my lunch. They usually sell cakes and corn in cup too which was my favorite purchase before we leave for the day. Once grandfather is done with his treatment we would send him back for the day. On days that he was admitted to the hospital, I usually visit him in the afternoon and another time at night. It was more or less an on and off routine until I was fifteen. During those years, I cared for my grandmother too which I still do but she doesn’t visit the hospital as often now.

From those years of visiting the hospital, I learnt how to maneuver a wheelchair (which isn’t easy actually), how to help shift a person from the car to the wheelchair and spent hours waiting in the hospital looking at other patients while my own visits the doctor. I learnt how to care for a person who is bedridden and that when everything else fails to taste nice, cold jelly is your answer to get them to eat. I learnt how to read the charts and pick up doctors’ phrases because at that age understanding scientific words wasn’t really easy. But above everything, I learnt that caring for a sick person requires tolerance and patience. I used to be scared and so emotional seeing people get sick, worried that they will leave me one day. But I came to realize that a patient battling their own fight needed emotional support more than myself who is healthy. So I taught myself to be strong for them. And that every laughter meant so much to them because it makes a patient forget temporarily the suffering they have to go through. A sick person can be very difficult at times, most of the time you can’t really explain or understand why they act in a certain manner but know that it’s probably because they are struggling with their own battles too. And cancer was one tough battle. I remembered how my grandfather’s eyes would twinkle when I listen to his stories about his past or that I told him something about my day. He automatically smiles when I arrived at the hospital and always talks about his grandchildren to the doctors, even the nurses sometimes.

After grandfather passed away, I had few other family members that were diagnosed with cancer. My other grandfather, my relatives and now my dad. And every single time, it breaks my heart to know that this disease doesn’t have a cure yet. And every year, I would always somehow end up visiting SJMC, if not because of cancer it would be because of other sickness. It felt normal going to the hospital, like I’m going to a shopping mall. But getting news when someone is sick, especially the people I love always gets to me no matter how much I’ve dealt with. I got the news when I was in the UK, during Spring term. I was studying with my friend at our usual spot and I had a feeling to call my mum. When she told me the news, I tried so hard not to cry because I wanted to be strong for them. But I ended up crying without caring that there were people around me. But I’m better prepared now. Because I’ve learnt to understand their feelings before putting mine, I try to fulfill their demands as it would make them happy and put them at ease. I never had a youthful childhood where I get to go out when I like, spend hours with friends, go camping and hike up a mountain to watch the sunrise. Instead I mostly stayed at home and was taught (although I was reluctant) how to handle household chores. Not surprisingly, every time when there’s something big like when someone is sick or I’m having a major exams that’s the time when we would not have a maid too. So I had to learn how to clean the house, do the dishes, wash the clothes etc etc. Since I’m the only girl in the family, my mum always told me that if anything I had to takeover managing the family so I was practically drilled since young. I used to get so sad and rebellious about the fact that other friends could happily go camping and do things while I had to stay home and learn all these things.

Even until today, I don’t go out as and when I like. I usually plan a week ahead my outing schedule so that it doesn’t clash with anyone and that someone would be at home to handle things if I’m out. But now that I’m older, I could not complain. In fact, I felt bad for all the time that I was away while they’re struggling fighting their battles here. It’s the reason why I’m home now instead of enjoying my last few months of degree in the UK. With mum breaking her ankle and dad going through treatment, I cannot let them do everything themselves anymore. And even then, they were sorry that I had to come back although clearly I didn’t mind one bit. Balancing my own life while managing the house isn’t easy to be honest. I had to make sacrifices and because I’m needed at home most of the time, that means less time to catch up with friends or go for outing.

But at this age, I realized that some people are worth sacrificing for. I also realized that it won’t always be the same. I can’t be fifteen all the time and my family are not getting younger by the day. I wanted to share this because I know sometimes families can be difficult. We don’t always understand the people we love but that doesn’t mean that we should neglect them when it gets tough. Sometimes also we are not allowed certain things although we see no fault in it, but give them the benefit of the doubt and try taking their advice into consideration before you make a decision. The people who love you and care for you, love them back even when there are days they are harsh to you. They don’t always mean it. Sometimes, they have a lot on their mind too. Forgiveness is something you have to learn to give as much as you can so that you don’t end up bitter and full of hatred. And patience is something you must try to give because the people who love you, they were patient when you threw tantrums, when you were sobbing and going through your own pain. Most importantly, don’t ever take things for granted. Your priorities, make sure they’re worth it. You can’t buy time with a person. You also can’t solve everything. Which is why, even when you give your best, don’t forget to leave the rest that is beyond your control to The Almighty. He knows how to heal and only He can make miracles. Pray for your loved ones, pray that they are protected and always cared for and if it’s time that they leave, pray that they leave in peace and that they’ll be in a better place. Cherish your moments and treasure them because you never know when it will be taken away from you.

sustainable clothes; time to convert

Sustainable clothing – I am almost 99.9% sure that most of you have heard of these words before. The trend have been on the rise over the last few years especially when more iconic people are taking part in this trend. But what is sustainable clothing all about? There are some people out there that owns environmental-friendly clothing because it’s the in thing, because famous people do it etc etc and while it’s good they’re supporting these initiatives it’s also important to understand the whole concept behind owning and maintaining a sustainable wardrobe.

First, let’s talk about the difference between normal clothing and the eco-friendly clothing line. Eco clothing are made of natural fabric that are non toxic and less polluting in their production, use and disposal. It’s not just about how the clothes are made but also the way the materials of the clothes are processed. For example, as we all know cotton is a primary material in clothing production. To create an environmental-friendly clothing, organic cotton – where synthetic pesticides, genetically modified seeds and man-made fertilizers are not used in the production, replace the standard ones making it more sustainable and ‘greener’ in the production of the clothing. These agricultural practices are healthier than production of conventional cotton which contributes to all kinds of pollution, especially water and land. When talking about eco-friendly clothing, it can also mean the use of recycled fabric and other waste. For example, the world has found a way to create textile using leftover hulls from soybean production. It’s not only helping to reduce waste but it is also biodegradable.

The objective of sustainable clothing is not limited to the production of the clothes, but it involves other factors as well such as ensuring that the materials used for clothing production is organic and ‘green’, does not involve exploitative labor practices and the materials adhere ‘green’ farming method.

Now that we’ve covered the concept of sustainable clothing, the next step is to understand the other objective of this concept. The idea in creating sustainable clothing is primarily to reduce pollution and waste generated from clothing production. The one important factor to sustainability is our wardrobe lifestyle. It’s not really helpful if you buy sustainable clothing but then keep on throwing them away in the bin after wearing it a few times. We want to reduce waste and that’s just as important as wearing sustainable clothes. So, here’s some tips that you can practice for your wardrobe lifestyle (I’m sure nobody expects you to have a wardrobe malfunction either!).

Say the magic word over and over again until it sticks to your heart and brains:

“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”

I know it’s not easy, especially when the new Summer collection is too gorgeous you can’t resist or you have a theme dinner and you need to buy something new for the theme. But then, there’s always a way around it and these 3 magic words will help you save the environment and not have a wardrobe malfunction, a win win situation!

  1. Before purchasing your clothes, always think of at least 5 different ways you can style it. This is so that you can easily match it with other clothes and have a new look for it.
  2. Don’t buy too many clothes with the same/similar design. For example, if the trend now is off-shoulder tops, you don’t need to change your whole tops to off-shoulder ones. Maybe one or two is good enough or even better, DIY your current top to an off-shoulder!
  3. Ask yourself if you’re going to wear it before you buy because sometimes it may look good on the models, but it might not be your style. This way, you’ll not only reduce consumption but you get to save some money.
  4. Secondhand clothing! I’m not sure if you’re the kind that wears secondhand clothes but trust me they’re not bad at all. You might need to do some searching but hey, at least it’s a bargain. This is especially useful if you’re planning to wear the clothes only once or twice.
  5. Take good care of your clothes. Why? This is so, when you’re bored or want to have a change of style you can easily recycle it and give away the clothes. There are two ways to this, either donate it to a charity or you can sell it.
  6. Or you can learn to DIY and be a self-claimed fashion designer for yourself. That way you can have a change of wardrobe without hurting your bank account too much.
  7. Quality over quantity – it may be a bit pricey, but a good quality clothes can last you a long time. And don’t get me wrong, quality does not equal to expensive. There are good quality clothes out there that are just as affordable, maybe even cheaper. So do your research before purchasing.

These tips apply to all kinds of clothing consumption. I know the tricky bit when you are trying to convert your wardrobe to a sustainable one is definitely the price. My first time checking out a sustainable clothing company, I had a hard time processing the price of a T-shirt. I was planning to change my wardrobe but when I saw the price, I immediately closed the website. The price is no joke especially for a student like me. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change to ‘green’ clothing. It might take a while and you probably won’t be able to convert your whole wardrobe, but slowly you can build your sustainable wardrobe. It doesn’t just mean that you have to own ‘green’ clothes, it also mean that you practice those 3 magic words up there. So, don’t let the price stop you from creating your own sustainable wardrobe. Owning sustainable clothing is just one part of it, you can also help reduce consumption through recycling and reusing your clothes.

As a consumer, you have the power to demand for better practices in the fashion industry. If we support more and more sustainable clothing company, this will help them stabilize in the industry. High demand will shift other fashion companies direction and before you know it, more and more companies will practice the same concept. That’s what we want to achieve- a change in lifestyle that starts with our wardrobe. While we’re constantly battling between price value and ethics, there must also be a long term outlook in the industry. We might generate short term profits but in the long run, when resources are heavily polluted it will be too late to do damage control and the industry will spend more money trying to sustain the environment. There must be a balance between the short and long term outlook.

Now, time to change my wardrobe! It’s Earth Day today and I hope while many of you are celebrating the efforts and achievements we had so far in fighting climate change, we must also realize that the battle is not yet done. We are a long way to go from achieving sustainable lifestyle and this only means that we have to work even harder in creating awareness, making people realize that the environment is just as important as the economy or politics of a country. It’s probably even more important because environment is not a country thing, its a global thing.

the big decision

I was thinking about my first sentence for this post and the cliche ‘dear diary. .’ came up. I used to do that when I was younger though. The last week of December, every year without fail I would go to a bookstore and get a new diary. Every year too without fail I always manage to leave the diary hanging halfway through the year. I think I was sixteen when I realized the diary thing is not for me and I prefer blogging anyway so I switched permanently to blogging. I’ve had a few blogs from my school days which was mostly teenager stuff that I’m embarrassed to talk about because I mean at thirteen what kind of blogs would you expect ? I know it’s definitely not about the politics at that time or even about climate change in Malaysia. Tumblr was better, pictures and all which is bearable. I hardly use Tumblr nowadays but it’s still alive. Anyway, although I would love to, I shall resist the urge to start this post with ‘ dear diary . . ‘ because it’ll just be a post full of emotions and sappy things instead.

And before you even go there, no the big decision is not about getting married. It’s about graduation, or more like what I’ll be doing after graduation. I used to have this dream that I’ll take a year off after graduation and travel the world, maybe spend a month in Africa or in the Amazon jungle living as a part of the red indians tribe before I start my career. Wildlife is my thing you see, so any day any time I’d rather be surrounded by it but reality says the jungle I’m supposed to be at is the concrete jungle. So, no I won’t be taking a year off travelling from one national park to another. I’ll reserve that for another phase of my life. The past few weeks was juggling between assignments and job interviews. Did you catch that ? I’ve been to an actual job interview! Please take a moment to process this because even I’m still having a hard time believing it. Here I thought I could still pass as a school kid, but no reality had to hit me in the face about being old. Putting that aside, going to all these job interviews and having to make decisions about where to work, what to do and all made me realize that a job is more than just a job. I’m not sure if that make sense but I used to have this image that I’ll be working and it’s all good but I haven’t actually imagine working in which industry, what company, specializing in what field and so on. At first it was really overwhelming, you have to consider so many things including the pay, the opportunities, the potential growth, location etc etc. But then, I realized after considering a few of them I saw a pattern to my decision. I still did consider all the factors above but there was one thing that had the final say in all my choices and that was a question I asked myself for each job offer which is ‘ what is my motivation if I accept this job’. I turned down jobs that will potentially give me wider opportunities to explore because I couldn’t find my motivation to pursue that path and it surprises me to know that I’m okay with letting it go. You see, I’m the kind of a person that likes to take up opportunities and if I think I can do it, I would even if it’s just for self-satisfaction. So if you give me two choices, to work in a stressful environment that allows you to sleep only 4 hours a day or a nine to five casual working hours, I could totally do both working lifestyle. But this time, I choose to follow what I really want to do, not because society do it this way so I’m going to take the exact same path. And that’s absolutely fine , trust me.

Do something that you want to and find a job that keeps you motivated to wake up every morning and go to the office instead of finding excuses to have a day off. If you don’t have answers yet, explore all you like. Intern in as many companies, do different jobs and find your true place. Get yourself a job that will make you feel energetic even if you’re still working when everyone’s left the office for the day. Do something you’re passionate about and until you find the right job, don’t settle for anything less. Never compare yourself to others because everyone is different. As humans, our motivations are different so how can we compare our decisions. This is a path you will be taking alone and only you can answer the questions.

It took me a while to make my choice to be honest. I was weighing between going for a job that gives assurance in career growth or being part of something that I’m in love with. But in the end, I know I will definitely need the motivation for me to still be enthusiastic about being at work when I’m 12 months down the road. In a way, I’m also making sure that I will be that efficient worker who is productive and always contributing rather than a passive worker who won’t initiate anything beyond what is supposed to be done. I’ll be spending five days with the job anyway, might as well do something I enjoy.

My mum used to tell me know yourself before you look at others. We can all run but that doesn’t mean all of us can keep up at the same pace, some go faster and some a bit slower but eventually we all will get to where we want to be. Some climb the corporate ladder, some settle knowing that they could go further but choose not to because of other priorities. So if you’re making a big decision today why not look back at what is it that drives you forward ? Who knows that will help you answer some of your questions 🙂

On a side note, finals are so close I feel like crawling under my duvet and just hibernate until it’s time to go back home. I’ll be home after my finals which is something I’m looking forward to. Home feels like the only place I want to be right now. I’m definitely counting my days and marking my calendar because I can’t wait to see my family again and listen to their jokes over dinner, or laugh over something so silly it doesn’t even make sense but I usually laugh because they’re precious like that.

Oh and yes, I’ll update about my Spring break in the next post and share some photos I took. I’ll also do another post about my dilemma in changing my wardrobe to a sustainable one so look out for that one if you’re into sustainable lifestyle!

p/s: Hope you had a good spring break so far 🙂 The flowers are blooming even more now in the UK its so pretty everywhere I go.